As part of this week's numerous #HourOfCode activities was a very special experience for the students of Eastlea Community School. Having last month shown Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella what they have been able to do with the BBC micro:bit when he visited the school, the students were welcomed to No.10 Downing Street this Tuesday to complete the Minecraft Hour Of Code tutorial alongside Prime Minister David Cameron and Education Secretary Nicky Morgan MP.
Coding, computational thinking and associated digital skills are attributes increasingly sought after by UK - and global - employers, and this week schools up and down the country have been running Hour Of Code sessions, giving young people an introduction to these concepts and disciplines.
— UK Prime Minister (@Number10gov) December 8, 2015
Speaking on the day, the Prime Minister said:
“It’s crucial that we give our young people the skills they need to get on so they can compete for the best jobs of the future. In this digital age, coding matters, which is why initiatives such as the Hour of Code are so important and why we’ve embedded it in our national curriculum alongside other STEM subjects.”
As well as working through the tutorials together, the students went on to give the ministers demonstrations of their own projects involving the BBC micro:bit, such as using it as a games-controller for Kodu, and driving the motors for a model caterpillar and as a “jump counter” which flashed incremental numbers when the Prime Minister jumped up and down.
The kids were understandably amused at the sight of the PM jumping up and down to make the BBC micro:bit flash LED numbers. Luckily, Education Secretary Nicky Morgan was on hand to return to the theme of the day - stressing the importance of STEM skills:
“The Hour of Code initiative shows that coding is for everyone and by learning these digital skills, all pupils can have the opportunity to fulfil their potential to get on in life. The world is changing and it is essential that we have a generation of young people with the knowledge and skills to become active creators of digital technology, not just consumers of it. Today I’ve written my first line of code and now I’m challenging all parents to do the same.”
And the fun didn't stop there for the students of Eastlea Community School, as the very next day they were back in Westminster at our ‘House of Code’ event. Here several MP’s, including Dr Liam Fox and Neil Carmichael, were introduced to the surprising creativity of coding. Pupils joined experts from across Microsoft to help MP’s try their hands at the Minecraft ‘Hour of Code’ tutorial and a variety of devices controlled by the BBC micro:bit.
Computer Science Education Week ends on Sunday, but don’t forget you can still complete the Hour of Code yourself. Simply visit code.org for the online Minecraft tutorial.