The Walt Disney Company is expanding its partnership with Code.org, the nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding student access to computer science, by lending its “Frozen” and “Star Wars” characters to a curriculum for elementary-school students.
The collaboration began in 2014 when Disney worked with the organization to use Elsa, Anna and Olaf and other “Frozen” characters in a one-hour tutorial on computer programming for the Hour of Code, a campaign that takes place in December. In 2015, Princess Leia, R2-D2, Rey and BB-8 had their own Hour of Code tutorial. The Frozen and Star Wars-themed tutorials have been used more than 30 million times and are among Code.org’s most popular coding activities, according to Code.org.
Now, both franchises will be used to create courses in the 80-hour, year-round Computer Science Fundamentals curriculum on Code Studio. They will be available to Code Studio account holders – about 11 million students and 330,000 teachers – as they are developed during the next year.
“We’ve been trying to make learning fun for kids,” Code.org Founder and CEO Hadi Partovi told TechCrunch. “Fundamentally the reason why we’re working with Disney is because children love the Disney brand, the Disney characters and by integrating those characters into our lessons it makes learning to code much more engaging for the students.”
The integration of Disney characters will serve as a bridge for students as they transition from the introductory Hour of Code tutorials to a full computer science course, according to Disney’s press release. The announcement was made Tuesday at the International Society for Technology in Education Conference.
“Computer science will play a critical role in the careers of the next generation of innovators and storytellers, and we want to help open the door to students interested in this field,” said Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media Chairman Jimmy Pitaro. “By bringing Star Wars and Frozen characters to Code.org’s in-class curriculum, we hope to make these courses more fun and accessible than ever before.”
Disney is not the only large corporation getting involved with teaching children about computer science. This summer, Apple introduced “Coding Games and Programming Robots” to its lineup of free three-day Apple Camps aimed at ages 8 to 12. At this camp, kids learn the fundamentals of block coding using the Tynker app and Sphero robot. Registration for this camp and the other two at Apple stores – Interactive Storytelling with iBooks and Stories in Motion with iMovie – opened last week. You can check if your local store has any openings left here.
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