08 Dec 2015
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OMGTech! launches Hour of Code for Kiwi students

By Catherine Knowles

Yesterday saw the global Hour of Code campaign and Computer Science Education Week kick off in New Zealand with schools in Pt England, Auckland.

The event has been designed to get young people interested in technology and provide them the opportunity to try coding and learn how to problem solve in new ways.

Kids are encouraged to develop skills, such as coding, that will be in greater demand in an increasingly digital world.

Thanks to OMGTech!, in collaboration with Microsoft New Zealand and code club, until December 13 thousands of Kiwi students around the country can learn to code via online tutorials at Code.org.

One of these tutorials is inspired by the popular online building game, Minecraft, and was created by the game’s designers.

It introduces players to basic coding within the familiar environment of the Minecraft world and includes characters and challenges from the game.

It’s been created to ensure kids can run through the tutorial independently, without the need of a computer scientist.

Dr Michelle Dickinson, OMGTech! co-founder and Code Club Aotearoa board member, 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, OMGTech co-founder and Vend CEO, says NZ needs more kids entering into the technology workforce and events like this will help.

“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.“ 

Nigel Parker, Microsoft New Zealand director of developer experience, agrees and 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.

Educators and parents are encouraged to invite students and children to do the Minecraft tutorial online, or by contacting one of Microsoft’s partner groups about attending a live Hour of Code workshop. 

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.

Rowsell says more than 100 million students around the world have participated in the Hour of Code and OMGTech! wants to help every Kiwi kid to have the same opportunity.

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