Students from all over the world had an ‘Hour of Code’ on 7th December. The reason for this special occasion was to bring exposure of computer sciences to kids and Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, decided to be in one Seattle classroom for this purpose. The Rainier View Elementary School’s fourth graders began the class by telling about what they already knew about programming and coding.
Nadella came in and asked, “How many of you are into Minecraft?” A number of students raised their hands and Nadella responded, “Oh, man, that’s so cool.” He went onto explain that his team has created a Microsoft tutorial to ‘get you into computational thinking and computer science with a game you love.’
The kids didn’t need to be told twice and they jumped aboard the bandwagon and began creating movement and action and then saw how they were simultaneously writing computer code as well. Nadella, meanwhile, was talking to two students, “Let me show you this. Three move forwards, destroy block. That’s the coding you did.”
Students understood that it was not always easy but it was fun to do so. One student said, “We’re already at number six, but we’re getting confused.” The other added, “We’re trying to create code to build a wall, but it’s not going so well.” The sweetest part was when they managed to get breakthrough and pumped fists in the air with their victory stances and even high-fived Nadella. He said, “You got it, I think. Yes, you got it!”
Nadella explained, “You’re taking their passion for a game and converting it. At some level, the best way of learning is when you’re not even aware of it. But yes, you are learning so that’s what’s going to keep them engaged.”
Microsoft has already partnered with Code.org in order to continue this learning through the high school years. This is the prime time to tempt future workers in particular; black, females and Hispanic students. Nadella added, “Having that open ended tooling that allows a diverse population to engage, I think is important. The other important aspect is to get to communities like this where you have a diverse student population.”
Having a diversified employed staff is an important issue for Microsoft where only over a quarter of the workers are women, 5.4% are Hispanic and 3.5% are African American. The idea sure is taking off since already a student, Jasmine, is talking about a future career and says, “I think it’s really fun, probably because you get to make games on Hour of Code, like sometimes it’s computer science.” Nadella called this response, ‘awesome’ and added, “They were in fact learning some pretty big concepts and even in this one hour when they got it, the excitement, the enthusiasm they had is, I think is what’s going to be sustaining them to go back and go back and play.”