Microsoft 'MakeCode for Minecraft' uses gaming to trick kids into learning to code

When I was a kid, one of my favorite meals was meatloaf -- yeah, I am a stereotypical red-blooded American. My mom would make this dinner regularly, but she had a secret ingredient -- carrots! Yeah, she would mix mushed carrots into the ground beef loaf. Guess what? I couldn't tell the difference, and so, I was eating vegetables. Hiding healthy foods in other ones has become quite popular in recent years -- there are even cookbooks that teach it.

Unfortunately, some children can be just as adverse to learning as they are to eating vegetables. Sure, some kids are avid learners and eaters of healthy food, but if they aren't, some parents can be in for quite the struggle. Today, Microsoft showcases a new way to teach children coding by tricking them into thinking they are playing Minecraft. You know what? That is rather brilliant!

"The MakeCode for Minecraft editor has the pixelated look and feel of Minecraft. MakeCode allows coding with visual blocks, based on a drag and drop interface for beginners, as well as in text with a JavaScript interface for the more experienced learners. Coding with blocks or text, MakeCode teaches the 101 of programming languages, including variables, control flow, if statements, loops and functions. More advanced users smoothly ramp up to more complex concepts such as recursion, fractals and object oriented or distributed programming," says Peli de Halleux, Principal Software Development Engineer, Microsoft.

de Halleux further says, "The Microsoft MakeCode team also works on other editors that allow the programming of physical things such as micro-controllers including the micro:bitand Adafruit Circuit Playground Express. In all these scenarios, the coding is directly linked to building something real, which is the primary reason most computer programmers learn to code in the first place. Instead of thinking they are coding, students are playing a game, they are building their next superpower. Minecraft is a game. MakeCode for Minecraft fits the coding experience into the game itself."

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In the future, not knowing how to code could be just as impeding as being illiterate -- it is imperative that your children learn this important skill ASAP. What makes "MakeCode for Minecraft," so cool -- besides the Minecraft-themed interface -- is that it is web-based. Yes, folks, you can simply launch the learning experience in a web browser on Windows 10. It seems like a great way to get a young person started in coding in a fun way.

Want to try it out? Simply point your web browser at the link here. If you or your child does try it, please tell me about the experience in the comments below.

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