Code.org has enlisted Minecraft to help kids learn to code by dragging and dropping blocks to generate computer code. Are “they” trying to make the programming workers of tomorrow? Code.org is a non-profit that aims to get school kids interested in coding through their Hour of Code initiative, which has been widely adopted in classrooms around the US. Considering that programming has now become a highly sought after job skill, some public schools like those in Chicago have now made Hour of Code a requirement for graduation. So how does Code.org get kids interested in coding? Simple, they turn to popular media and games such as Minecraft to use as learning aids.

Instead of building structures and other creations by mining 3-dimensional blocks, players use Blockly- a visual style drag-and-drop editor that uses blocks for pieces of code (JavaScript). These can be strung together to perform functions, including commands, repeat loops and if statements. For example, kids take control of one of two characters (Alex or Steve) in a virtual landscape. To get the character to move, they drag and drop the necessary code block from a toolbox into an adjacent workspace. The same is done for every other action as well, which ultimately teaches the kids how coding is done:

In the Star Wars version of Hour of Code, players can work both Rey and Leia to program BB-8 and R2-D2 for various missions:

Kids of all ages have access to a variety of other coding tutorials and games including Star Wars, where they can play as both Rey (from the upcoming The Force Awakens) and Leia to program the droids BB-8 and R2-D2 for specific missions. The learning process is made simple- users need only signup at Code.org’s Hour of Code website and choose from any number of hour-long tutorials to begin learning.

Teachers, on the other hand, have access to specific lesson plans catered to individual grade levels, making it easier for groups to learn in a classroom setting. Additionally, the tutorials can be used on any number of devices besides a Mac or PC, including tablets and smartphones, which all have access to the same learning material. For more information about Hour of Code and how it’s being leveraged as a learning tool, please visit Hour of Code.

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