Nerd Parents Rejoice: Disney, in partnership with Code.org, is developing a new app featuring Elsa and Anna from [Frozen](movie:411685) in an effort to teach aspiring young programmers the skills they'll need to develop successful careers in tech.
The tutorial is called "Artist with Anna and Elsa," and aims to teach students the basics of coding concepts, such as loops and conditionals, with guidance provided by the sibling heroines of Disney's hit film.
The tutorial is another part of Code.org's continuing Hour of Code campaign, which rolls into it's second year this winter. The campaign's goal is to encourage students to learn and practice writing code for at least an hour during Computer Science Education Week, which runs from December 8th to the 14th this year.
It will also feature instructional videos by leading women in tech, including Polyvore CEO Jess Lee and Microsoft engineer Paola Mejia. The company is making major strides when it comes to encouraging more girls to get into programming, and this is the latest installment in their efforts.
Alongside licensing the characters for this project, Disney is hosting several Hour of Code workshops for kids in many of it's North American studios, including Los Angeles, Palo Alto, Seattle, and Kelowna, British Columbia. Disney also invested $100,000 into Code.org's ongoing efforts to attract young people to the world of programming. You can check out the tutorial here.
But why stop with Anna and Elsa? Disney has an array of great, smart characters! Here's who I'd like to see teaching the next tutorial:
Big Hero 6
This tutorial could be great for future engineers and programmers! I could see this being a three-part app that pairs off the characters in different lessons: Hiro and Baymax; Honey Lemon and Gogo; Fred and Wasabi. With the cast working out of a "Nerd Lab" in their movie canon, I think this would be a fun and very in-character tutorial. It also offers a slightly more diverse set of characters for kids to look up to. Not with gender (though definitely with ethnicity), but moreso with each character's different specialty within science and tech.
Vanellope von Schweetz and Wreck-It Ralph
Fix-it Felix and Sergeant Calhoun can join in on the fun, too, but the pivotal duo of Disney's Wreck-It Ralph would be great hosts for a programming tutorial - especially because of the film's deep roots in video games and game development. Vanellope is originally thought of as a glitch, after all, so the tutorial could follow Vanellope and Ralph as they wander their in-game worlds, fixing glitches. Vanellope was perfect just as she was in the end, but that doesn't mean non-adorable-girl glitches should be left unfixed!
R2-D2 and C-3PO
Since Star Wars is owned by Disney, it's only fitting that the legendary droids (seriously, legendary - they survived more than half a century of intergalactic war, what the heck?!) of the franchise lead a game about programming and code. They've already been the subject for a lot of kids' learning programs, including a really cool, but now severely outdated learning laptop shaped like Artoo himself. Putting the droids in the role of educators is a solid idea, if I do say so myself.
Wall-E and Eve
Following with the theme of putting robots in an educational position, the adorable pairing from Disney's Wall-E would make for great tutorial material. The 'bots are extremely endearing, and with tech being the field they were born out of, it just makes sense.
With the incredible efforts made to get girls into coding as of recent, using an entire roster of Disney Princesses could be the right path to take. Though it's a little out of character for the princesses - many of whom are based in eras that take place long before the advancement of technology - using the same motif that was applied to Anna and Elsa (where children are taught how to create shapes and solve problems within the theme of their film) while broadening the choice of characters for girls to choose from would still work extremely well.
Admirable efforts to get kids, especially young girls into coding like these are taking place everywhere: Girls Who Code, a nonprofit organization, has been leading events and workshops around the country for two years; Black Girls Code is currently leading a game jam for young black girls interested in creating video games; folks like Mitch Resnick have been leading talks on getting kids into programming early on in life. Overall, for every gallon of faith I lose in humanity, people and organizations like this sure do help restore it. Kudos to Disney and the hardworking team at Code.org for the latest installment in this awesome, ongoing effort.