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Heres How Microsofts Minecraft Will Teach Kids How to Code

The tutorial was created forCode.orgs Hour of Code, a nationwide campaignin its third yearthat has drawn support from several Silicon Valley giants. Last year, President Barack Obama participated in an Hour of Code in Newark, New Jersey, while Appleheld hour-long coding tutorials at its retail stores across the county. One of the companys programming workshops last year even featured characters from DisneysFrozen.

Code.orghas long focused on getting more girls and minorities interested in computer science, and one advantage to using Minecraft is that it appeals to both boys and girlsmore so than other popular games like Halo or Star Wars. Minecraft is a special game that girls and boys alike often cant be pried away from, CEO Hadi Partovi said in a statement.

In fact, theres also a specialversion of Minecraft specially designed for schoolsthat is sold under the companys educational license. If youd like to try out the tutorial, you can give it a spinhere.

Heres How Microsofts Minecraft Will Teach Kids How to Code

Theres also an economic reason for Microsoft to support Hour of Code. The company will hold this years tutorial sessions at its stores and offices, and also hand out Windows Store gift cards to teachers who organize their own coding events. If the tech company can lure more teachers back into its Windows ecosystem, it might be able to stem the rise of Google. Additionally, if kids get used to using Microsoft products it may influence their future purchasing decisions.

An immense number hours are poured into Microsofts world-building game Minecraft every day. By 2014, players, many of them children, will have spent199,722 yearsplaying Minecraft on just the Xbox 360 alone. Thats a lot of wasted time. But what if those hours could be used for more than just idle entertainment?

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This isnt the first time that Minecraft has been used for educational purposes.A nine-year-oldbuilt a Minecraft-based modification last year to teach kids how to create their own mods using Java. Earlier this year, an online course by Youth Digital taught children how to custom-code Minecraft environments and characters. Meanwhile, the Australian government uses Minecraft as part of its contests to design national parks.

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The educational version of Minecraft turns individual blocks into actions, which can be chained to make simple programs.

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Thats what Microsoftwants to find out. The company has developeda new tutorialaimed at children as young as six that uses Minecraft characters, and concepts, to teach kids how to code. The program was developed with help , a non-profit focused on getting young people interested in science and technology.

The Minecraft-based tutorial introduces basic coding skills in a 2-D world that mimics the same environment players would find in the popular software game. Minecraft is well suited for educational purposes, because its a game based solely on building things. In the tutorial, individual blocks become actions, which can be combined to generate computer code. The free tutorial includes 14 different lessons.

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Heres How Microsofts Minecraft Will Teach Kids How to Code

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