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June 30, 2016

Disney's 'Frozen' and 'Star Wars' characters to star in new computer science curriculum

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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.

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“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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March 12, 2015

Disney offers cash prizes to software developers for new fitness apps

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Developers, assemble! The Walt Disney Company has teamed up with Creative England, a nonprofit group, to sponsor a competition to come up with new fitness apps for families using Disney and Marvel characters. The reward? A £95,000 (or more than $148,000 in U.S. cash) prize.

The competition in England was designed "to target software specialists outside London's highly competitive development scene," according to a press release, though only companies in England are qualified for the competition.

Matt Carroll of Disney said in the release that the competition was seeking submissions that take advantage of the latest heath technology trends, such as wearable fitness sensors.

"We hope developers will be inspired to come up with fun and engaging digital solutions using Disney's stories and characters for families to use, which will positively effect [sic] a healthier way of life," Carroll wrote.

Disney officials said the company's decision to back the competition follows the success of a Pirates of the Caribbean add-on for the Disney Infinity video game created in Brighton by local developer Studio Gobo.

Disney and Creative England's competition will award £5,000 (more than $7,500) to three regional developers in the first round to prepare a 'proof of concept'. One team will then win £80,000 (more than $125,000) in funding to help develop a final product.

Disney is just one large company that is seeking to secure a piece of the lucrative fitness technology industry. This week, Apple introduced its new watches that are touted to have a fitness component that is an integral part of the devices. But it's not just in the mobile tech realm in which Disney has turned to sports to reflect some of its core values and tap into poplar pastimes for its fans.

The Walt Disney Company has continued to build its ties to professional and amateur sports, too. Last week, the company announced its sponsorship of the new Orlando City Soccer Club. Also, the popular runDisney division appears to be growing by leaps and bounds with new races, health and fitness expos, and related events. In addition, Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando hosts amateur sporting events of all types year-round and continues to attract positive fan exposure even with little marketing compared to that of the resorts and theme parks here in Orlando.



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About The Walt Disney Company

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Mom and The Magic in the The Walt Disney Company category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

The Nightmare Before Christmas is the previous category.

Tour de Turtles is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.