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Microsoft and Code.org want to teach kids to code with Minecraft

The popular block-building-sandbox game is creeping into the third annual Hour of Code, a worldwide campaign to spark students' interest in programming.

Microsoft is getting blocky with a Minecraft-themed module for Code.org's third annual Hour of Code.

Microsoft

Listen up you little Creepers and Zombies out there. Microsoft wants to teach you how to code using Minecraft as a teacher.

On Monday, Microsoft announced a partnership with Code.org that will teach kids (and adults) the basics of computer science in an hour using Minecraft-themed lessons. Microsoft bought Mojang, the Swedish video game company behind the hit game,
for $2.5 billion last year, and wants to use the title to get the more than 100 million players around the world interested in coding.

The new Minecraft module is part of Code.org's third annual Hour of Code, a worldwide campaign that tries to demystify code by teaching the basics of computer science in just an hour. The Hour of Code takes place during Computer Science Education Week from December 7 - 13.

Minecraft, released in 2009, has no storyline to speak of, but instead lets players create their own worlds and explore others in an infinite digital sandbox.

If users sign up for the free Hour of Code Minecraft module, they'll learn how to use blocks of code to make Steve or Alex, the two main character skins from the game, adventure through a Minecraft world. Other modules, including some based on Star Wars, "Frozen" and other popular content, are also available on the Code.org site.

Minecraft lead developer Jens Bergensten provides the introductory video for the Minecraft module, and and other members of the Mojang team walk students through the process of building code to get their characters to achieve various goals like shearing sheep and breaking down trees into wood resources.

"A core part of our mission to empower every person on the planet is equipping youth with computational thinking and problem-solving skills to succeed in an increasingly digital world," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said a statement. "With Minecraft and Code.org, we aim to spark creativity in the next generation of innovators in a way that is natural, collaborative and fun."

Students who choose the Microsoft module will tackle a series of 14 coding challenges, including some free play time so they can take the coding tactics they learn during the module and explore the Minecraft world with code. The Minecraft module is available for crafting now.