Minecraft Hour Of Code
Written by Kay Ewbank   
Wednesday, 25 November 2015

This year's Hour of Code has added a Minecraft-themed activity to encourage kids to try coding.

The Hour of Code is now in its third year, and is run by Code.org, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing participation in computer science by underrepresented groups including women and students of color. The Hour of Code is held during Computer Science Education Week, which this year runs from December 7–13.

To date, more than 100 million students across 180 countries and 40 languages have participated in the Hour of Code, including one in three students in U.S. schools.

 

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In addition to Code.org's Star Wars tutorial that we've already reported on, this year's Hour of Code now has a Minecraft-based option. The tutorial, The new tutorial created by Minecraft is designed for ages 6 and up takes players from scratch through basic coding skills.  It features Steve and Alex from Minecraft and the activity involves exploring a 2D world with these two characters, encountering Minecraft-inspired challenges along the way.

The tutorial lets kids put together blocks of code using a tool called Blockly. This comes from a Google project that has blocks each representing segments and lines of code as blocks. The idea is it's easier to see how to put together structures such as loops and select statements when you don't have to type in the actual commands.

Players are offered a set of 14 puzzles to work through, maneuvering Steve and Alex through increasingly complex tasks such as moving through the world, shearing sheep, chopping down trees, and building houses. When you've put together the blocks to complete a puzzle, you can reveal the JavaScript code behind the blocks.

 

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Minecraft was bought by Microsoft last year, causing much consternation among the game's devotees. The fact it is now appearing in the Hour of Code shouldn't be that surprising given the fact Microsoft is the largest donor to Code.org.

Microsoft is leading thousands of Hour of Code events in more than 50 countries around the world, at Microsoft stores, offices and innovation centers as well as facilities of Microsoft’s YouthSpark nonprofit partners and schools. The events will be led by Microsoft Student Partners, and Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs). If you're an educator who organizes an Hour of Code event worldwide, Windows Store credit is one of the rewards you'll be eligible for.

Minecraft's potential for encouraging and developing algorithmic thinking and coding skills is well recognized. The game has even made its way into Cyphinx, the UK's GCHQ-sponsored project, which is using a Minecraft world to test cyber skills. Bringing it into the primary school classroom for the Hour of Code should appeal to both pupils and their teachers. 

 

 

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More Information

Code.org

Minecraft tutorial

Volunteer for the Hour of Code

Related Articles

Star Wars For Hour Of Code

Google Blockly - A Graphical Language with a Difference 

UK Launches Games Portal To Discover Cyber Security Talent 

The Hour Of Code Needs You

A New Hour Of Code 

President Obama Experiences An Hour of Code 

Teaching Coding To The Next Generation

Teach Code In School - Before It's Too Late!

 

 

 

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