Minecraft can help teach kids how to code

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(Image Credit: Microsoft)

(CBS News) – First “Star Wars,” now “Minecraft.” Microsoft and Code.org, a nonprofit that aims to expose students to computer science, have unveiled a Minecraft coding tutorial for kids and educators. This is part of the third annual global Hour of Code campaign, which runs from December 7 through 13.

Earlier this month, Disney released a similar Code.org tutorial using characters from the “Star Wars” films.

This new Minecraft lesson teaches basic coding skills using the characters Steve and Alex from the game as well as challenges inspired by the game’s environment that will be familiar to the more than 100 million players who enjoy Minecraft around the world.

“A core part of our mission to empower every person on the planet is equipping youth with computational thinking and problem-solving skills to succeed in an increasingly digital world,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a press release. “With ‘Minecraft’ and Code.org, we aim to spark creativity in the next generation of innovators in a way that is natural, collaborative and fun.”

This partnership is not out of the blue. Last year, Microsoft bought Mojang, the Swedish company behind the video game for $2.5 billion, CNET reports.

The tutorial is meant for ages 6 and up, and gives users the chance to explore a 2-D Minecraft environment where they build structures by putting blocks together that generate computer code. The video game lesson consists of 14 challenges and also involves free play time where users can put into practice some of the coding skills they just learned.

“‘Minecraft’ is a special game that girls and boys alike often can’t be pried away from,” Code.org CEO and Co-Founder Hadi Partovi said in the release. “Microsoft continues to be Code.org’s most generous donor and one of the largest supporters of the worldwide movement to give every student the opportunity to learn computer science. This year’s ‘Minecraft’ tutorial will empower millions of learners around the world to explore how a game they love actually works and will inspire them to impact the world by creating their own technology or apps.”