The annual global ‘Hour of Code’ campaign and Computer Science Education Week is kicking off in New Zealand at a series of coding events for kids at Pt England schools in Auckland. The events start Monday, 7 December.
OMG Tech!, a not-for-profit education initiative co-founded by Nanoscientist Dr Michelle Dickinson MNZM, and Vend CEO Vaughan Rowsell, is partnering with Microsoft New Zealand and code club to run the events, which are all about raising awareness of the ‘Hour of Code’ opportunity to teach coding to thousands of Kiwi students around the country, via online tutorials at Code.org. OMGTech! and Microsoft want to encourage schools and groups across NZ to participate in the Hour of Code this year.
9.00 – 10.15am - Pt England School 10.30 – 11.45am - Stonefield School 12.10 – 1.25pm Glenbrae School 1.35 – 2. 50pm Tamakai Primary
Amongst the activities available at Code.org is a computer coding tutorial inspired by the popular online building game, Minecraft. Now available at http://code.org/mc the tutorial introduces players to basic coding within the fun and familiar environment of the Minecraft world. The Minecraft coding tutorial was created by the game’s designers and includes characters and challenges inspired by the much-loved game that was developed by Mojang and bought by Microsoft in 2014. It is designed so that kids can run through the tutorial without the need to have a computer scientist with them making it easy for anyone that wants to run an event to take part.
Dr Michelle Dickinson, Co-Founder of OMGTech! and Board Member for Code Club Aotearoa, says the events at Pt England are a great start to the week. “We want to showcase that anyone can learn to code and you don't need to be good at science or math to learn it. By understanding how your computer works we can be empowered to not only read and use technology but also write and create technology to help shape our future,” she says.
Vaughan Rowsell, Co-Founder of OMGTech, and CEO of Vend says NZ needs more kids entering into the technology workforce “NZ Kids need to learn the fundamentals of coding. We need to give our kids every opportunity to play, have fun, and learn with the technologies that will be commonplace when they hit the workforce. Over 100 million students worldwide have participated in the hour of code and OMGTech! wants to help every NZ kid to do at least an hour of code to start them on this path too”
Nigel Parker, Director of Developer Experience for Microsoft New Zealand, says more educators have realised how vital it is for students to learn computer skills in a world with fast developing technology.
“As technology becomes an increasingly integral part of people's daily lives, there’s a growing demand – from students, parents, teachers and governments – to teach youth how to use technology. Learning how to create technology to help them become the innovators and drivers of growth and opportunity in their communities,” says Parker.
“I have noticed with my nine-year-old daughter that learning computer science and technology concepts helps her build critical skills like computational thinking and problem solving. She completed the Minecraft tutorial on Code.org and has an active interest in science due, in part, to her participation in OMGTech! events. She actively finds science experiments on the Internet that we complete together and she prints her own designs on the 3D printer at our local library.”
Educators and parents are encouraged to invite students and children to do the Minecraft tutorial at http://code.org/mc, or by contacting one of Microsoft’s partner groups about attending a live Hour of Code workshop.
“If you want to advocate for more computer science education in our schools you can add your voice to the thousands that are already calling for it,” says Nigel Parker.
OMGTech! will also be running a social campaign using the hashtag #hourofcodenz to get as many groups who are participating in the Hour of Code this year in NZ to share their stories and images of kids engaging in code.