Bringing Minecraft Hour of Code to Boys & Girls Club of Harlem

 |   Donna Abrusci

Students grouped around Surface laptops experience a Minecraft Hour of Code.

As I sit in the newly renovated Learning Lab at the Boys & Girls Club of Harlem, the ten youth that will be coding today are anxiously awaiting to enter the room.  They excitedly enter their brand-new space and quickly find their seats. The large-screen device has been turned on and we wait for the Microsoft Flagship retail team to join the club’s Skype connection. Today, ten students aged 9–11 will receive digital literacy education via a Minecraft Hour of Code with the “teacher” joining from a remote location. Eva Beltran, Product Advisor at the Microsoft Flagship store led the session’s presentation, joined by the club’s Development Coordinator, Aaron Stern and Program Officer of Academic Programs Dadriaunna Williams.  She engaged the students with questions about how much they knew about Minecraft. Once she asked who was ready to start coding, they excitedly raised their hands and shouted “ME!!!!”

The students were chosen to participate in the session based on their interest in coding along with their behavior. When asked to define code, the students described how it helps them make games, programming, and giving direction in Minecraft—very insightful for such a young group of coders!  It was shared with the coders that coding is about solving problems, not just playing games. This shows why coders are important for the future. Anything they can imagine, coding can make it a reality.  The great thing about coding is working with friends.

A slide from the day's presentation—Coding is how apps and websites are made.
A slide from the day’s presentation—Coding is how apps and websites are made.

As the coders started and moved forward, most reached levels 6 and 7—while a few coders reached level 14.  One coder was helping the others learn about loops with the repeat block function. One girl, frustrated by a level, said she couldn’t move forward. But by the end of the class, she found herself accomplishing the seemingly impossible task and was so happy. There was pure joy and excitement as they each finished their levels.

When the session ended, the kids did not want to leave the classroom; they wanted to keep coding!  The coders asked Aaron Stern when they were doing the program again.  It was an amazing experience for all.

Learn more about Minecraft for Education here.

Donna Abrusci
Donna Abrusci

Donna Abrusci is a Business Program Manager covering Operations and Philanthropic related activities in the New York Metro region. In June 2016 Donna reached 21 years with Microsoft. Donna’s role is quite diverse which allows her to work across a variety of business groups therefore offers her the ability to know many of the Microsoft employees in the New York and New Jersey area. Donna and her team work with varying non-profit organizations, including but not limited to, Girls Who Code, City Year New York and We Connect The Dots.