Microsoft today unveiled its plans for the Hour of Code, a campaign to broaden global participation in computer science, held during Computer Science Education Week, Dec. 7–13. Microsoft is inviting every school in Ireland to join children throughout the country for a ‘Minecraft’ coding tutorial next week.

Over the course of 60 minutes, students will be given an introduction to coding in a live online tutorial, by programming the Minecraft characters Alex or Steve to move through a simulated piece of a Minecraft world. You don’t have to have Minecraft to participate in the tutorial just need access to a device and the internet.

Hour of Code is a global initiative with schools and children across the globe participating next week. Microsoft employees will be assisting by visiting schools through Skype and in person to deliver an Hour of Code to make it as easy as possible for schools to get involved and to provide students with an introduction to coding.

Here’s how to get involved in Hour of Code:

1. Log onto www.microsoft.ie/code to register your interest for a Microsoft employee to visit your school to deliver an Hour of Code

2. Register for a Skype in the Classroom Hour of Code live online tutorial.

Select the date and time that suits you:

· Wednesday 9th December from 9:30am until 10:30am

· Thursday 10th December from 10:00am until 10:30am

3. Microsoft has tutorials available at www.microsoft.ie/code that can be delivered by teachers easily in schools

4. Resources for schools with limited technology access can be found at www.code.org schools will find the tools to deliver the ‘Unplugged Computer Science’ tutorial available on the website

Speaking about Microsoft’s plans for the Hour of Code Cathriona Hallahan, Managing Director, and Microsoft Ireland said: “A core part of our mission to empower every person on the planet is equipping young people with computational thinking and problem-solving skills to succeed in an increasingly digital world. With the Minecraft tutorial we plan to deliver during the Hour of Code we aim to spark creativity in the next generation of innovators in a way that is natural, collaborative and fun. We’re looking forward to supporting as many primary schools across the country next week and I’d encourage everyone to logo onto either Microsoft’s or Code.org’s website to find a way to get involved. There’s so many options to be involved that there’s something to suit every school. ”

Designed for ages 6 and up, the Minecraft tutorial introduces players to basic coding skills, encouraging them to navigate, mine, craft and explore in a 2-D Minecraft world by plugging together blocks to complete all actions and generate computer code. Players are offered a set of 14 challenges, including free play time, to explore coding concepts they’ve learned through the tutorial.

Speaking about the plans for the Hour of Code Mary Moloney, CEO, CoderDojo Foundation said: “We’re looking forward to an exciting week of coding week of 7th December and hope that people across the country get involved and try out coding on the day. With the support of companies like Microsoft we’re hoping to spread the reach and interest in coding across Ireland and beyond.”

To date, more than 100 million students across 180 countries and 40 languages have participated in the Hour of Code. This year, the campaign expects to exceed 100,000 events during Dec. 7?13 and to continue introducing more girls and underrepresented students of colour to this foundational 21st century field.

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