While the following statement will be perfectly understandable to a coder: <p><?phpthe_field('field_name'); ?></p>, it might be completely incomprehensible to most. Programming language and codes are the backbone of the many technologies that are now an essential part of our daily lives, and as a result, more people are learning to ‘speak code’.
To introduce young students to the exciting world of coding and computer game creation, Microsoft conducted a short learning session on Kodu Game Lab, a visual programming language, in September. Held in conjunction with the American Chamber of Commerce Corporate Community Day in Singapore, Microsoft collaborated with the Singapore American School (SAS) to introduce students to the basics of programming.
Lalit Mohan, Microsoft Singapore’s Education Solution Specialist, first briefed the volunteers on the basics of Kodu. The volunteers then conducted a hands-on training session to help prepare the participants for the main event—the Kodu competition, in which the students got to pit their coding skills against each other. The students used their imagination to create virtual worlds, such as a fictional city bustling with roving robots and landscapes featuring towering mountains and winding rivers.
“As Kodu is designed to be accessible to children, the students managed to pick up the application really quickly,” said Danish Lukawski, Tech Evangelist Intern for Microsoft and a volunteer at the event. “After learning the basics of Kodu, they were already starting to use its more advanced functions to liven up the worlds they created.”
Each student presented their entry to a panel of judges, including Blair Hall, Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Singapore, and Greg Tirrell, Deputy Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore. The submissions were judged based on their design, ease of navigation and how well the Kodu worlds were configured.
"It was heartening to see what these smart young minds can do with coding technology after just a few hours of coaching. We were very impressed with the worlds they created, and it was delightful to hear each of them speak with such pride and excitement about their creations," said Eveline Tseng, from the Bureau of Consular Affairs Section, US Embassy of Singapore.
Coding is becoming an increasingly relevant skill today, as it promotes critical thinking—a discipline essential for the successful student. Through initiatives such as Microsoft YouthSpark’s We Speak Code campaign, Microsoft hopes to encourage youth to pick up coding, while helping them to explore more career opportunities in the technology sector.