The Minecraft: Education Edition program has been made available for free by Microsoft as part of Hour of Code, an annual teaching event run by Code.org that aims to improve access to computer science education.
The Minecraft session teaches children about AI and coding and comes with teaching resources to help educators develop pupils’ learning after they finish the experience.
As part of Hour of Code, Code.org is offering tools and sessions to make computer science education more accessible throughout Computer Science Education Week, which starts on Monday, December 9. In the UK alone, more than 1,800 events have been registered to take place this year.
This includes guided Minecraft Hour of Code workshops that will be held in Microsoft Store locations globally. Three open sessions are available at the flagship Microsoft Store on Oxford Circus, which will run between Friday, December 13 and Sunday, December 15.
Produced with Microsoft’s AI for Earth team, this year’s session will introduce students to basic AI concepts and was inspired by real-life stories of AI being used to encourage conservation and sustainability.
In this year’s Minecraft Hour of Code’ session, people can interact with Minecraft villagers and firefighters, who will guide them through an eight-stage process to tackle forest fires by identifying hazards and removing flammable materials such as dry bush.
Once students have learned to identify these hazards, they will code a robotic helper to remove them before being transported to a village that may be at risk of a local forest fire. They will use an in-game code builder to instruct their robotic helper to remove hazards and keep the village safe.
Previous Hour of Code sessions have seen students build their own Minecraft world and explore oceans. These are still available online and via Minecraft: Education Edition.
Code.org, the non-profit that delivers the wider programme, is aiming to make technology education more accessible and is “dedicated to expanding participation in computer science and increasing participation by women and underrepresented minorities”. They consistently deliver teaching resources to educators and students working towards this aim.