EU Code Week 2018: Inspiring thousands of young minds across Europe

Robotic hand next to child's hand

Since its launch in 2013, EU Code Week has shared the power of programming with millions of people across the world.

The grass-roots initiative, which was launched by the Young Advisors for the Digital Agenda Europe, is supported by the European Commission as part of its strategy for a Digital Single Market. The Commission encourages schools to get involved with the initiative as part of its Digital Education Action Plan, and aims for 50 percent of Europe’s schools to be a part of the initiative by 2020.

Microsoft is a firm believer in EU Code Week and the impact that programming can have on people’s lives, and has supported Code Week since its inception. This year, Microsoft saw more than thousands of people attend events across Europe, providing opportunities for young Europeans to follow their passions, while inspiring others to take their first steps.

Aimed at youths, educators, policymakers and parents, Microsoft’s activities were also supported by findings from its Class of 2030 report, created in collaboration with McKinsey, which reveals the importance of human skills – such as collaboration, critical thinking and creativity – alongside digital skills.

Below are a few examples of Microsoft’s EU Code Week activities across Europe this year.

Czech Republic Hour of code event - children and teachers group picture

Czech Republic
Microsoft and non-profit organisation Czechitas have partnered for the past four years, working together to inspire children to embrace coding and computer science. During its duration, the program has seen 6,000 children attend classes, with thousands more attending online sessions, in addition to training 255 computer science teachers.

This year, weekend coding camps were set up for children to attend and learn about coding. Starting in Prague and Brno, the camps continued in České Budějovice, ending in Ostrava and Pardubice. The East and South Bohemian districts were included in the camps for the first time, to meet the growing demand across the region.

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Lapland landscape

In what was likely to be the northern-most tech event in the world, Microsoft Finland hosted 50 girls aged 15-16 in the small, tranquil village of Äkäslompolo, which lies above the arctic circle.

Hosted and created in a partnership between Microsoft, Junior Achievement Finland and the European Social Fund, the event brought together representatives from all organisations, with one aim in mind – to inspire and encourage a passion for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects in the next generation.

Sessions throughout the day introduced the girls to programming, mixed reality, entrepreneurship courses and coding workshops.

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Children participating in Hour of Code

Microsoft Germany’s Code of Life education initiative has been part of EU Code Week since its inception. This year, the Code your Life initiative ran a CodeCamp for children and young people with different cultural backgrounds, held in Karlsruhe together with the Center for Art and Media (ZKM).

During the two-day event, there were several coding workshops which were run in collaboration with TurtleCoder. The teams also created digital artwork, which are currently being exhibited at the Open Code event at the museum, until January.

On 11 October, there was also a coding workshop for young girls, while 19 October saw a focus on teachers, who attended workshops at Käthe Kollwitz Gymnasium in Munich. The goal of the session was to integrate the teaching materials and methods offered by Code your Life into the in-school curriculum for the seventh grade.

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In Greece, Microsoft launched Alice envisions the future 2018 – the very first Girls in STEM AI bootcamp – with a focus on building diversity and ensuring that every single attendee left as a Microsoft AI ambassador.

The four-day event was packed with workshops, panels, the latest tech, and above all, the goal to spark the passion for STEM subjects in our future generation. A total of 15 speakers and 20 trainers came together to inspire 160 girls and 60 visiting teachers, with a focus on the incredible powers and solutions that AI can bring to the world.

Some of Microsoft’s brightest minds took to the stage to share their knowledge and experience. Live-streamed for remote viewers, topics ranged from the future of AI, to the era of IoT and AI for social good. The speakers too, no doubt, learnt a thing or two from the younger minds in the audience to boot.

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Inside a school classroom

Microsoft Hungary saw 125 schools enroll in Microsoft’s Innovative School Programme – an initiative designed to help schools update their courses and teaching methods to help prepare the young minds of today, for the technological world of tomorrow.

Six sessions were held, where participants learnt about digital learning tools, while a robot introduced everyone to the basics of coding. More than 100 people attended the event, lead by school principals, who are spearheading the transformation for their schools.

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Coding Girls_EU Code Week

At start of EU Code Week, Microsoft Italy, together with Fondazione Mondo Digitale and the United States Embassy in Italy, announced the fifth iteration of Coding Girls – a program created to overcome the gender divide and accelerate the achievement of equal opportunities in scientific and technological fields.

This year, more than 100 high schools were involved, with more than 6,000 girls training in coding in Turin, Milan, Trieste, Rome, Naples, Salerno and Catania.

In addition, the program also ncluded regional hackathons at universities to promote the education and orientation of young women. The initiative is part of the wider project Ambizione Italia, by Microsoft, Fondazione Mondo Digitale and other relevant partners that aims at empowering people with digital skills in order to fight “the skill mismatch”, supporting the employment of Italian youths and the digital transformation process of the entire country.

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