Google offers introduction to coding skills in neat holiday package

Google wants you to get into the holiday spirit through a fun and instructive series of games which teach kids from one to 92 how to code.

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Google offers an "Advent" calendar of fun games. Photo – Google

Google wants you to discover your inner coding elf with games appearing to be a jolly good time but are also clever ways to instill basic concepts in computer programming languages.

With the need for software developers expected to grow 17 percent through 2024, how will this demand be met? The United States is immersed in a race against to fill these jobs as coding bootcamps, tech giants and governments all work on solutions to get people reskilled to new programming jobs. As more jobs are threatened by automation, turning low-skilled workers into coders is a way to uplift them into middle-class careers, most of which pay wages higher than the national average.

However, getting people to believe they can become a software programmer can be as difficult as convincing adults that Santa is real. They may not understand the difference between JavaScript and SQL, but what they can grasp is the holiday spirit, and there is plenty to be found in Google’s series of web-based games.

Head to Google’s Santa Tracker to get started. You’ll find a new game posted daily as the countdown to Christmas continues.

We tried out Code a Snowflake. After an animated set of instructions, we set out to finish our design by adding directional cues available in a drag-and-drop menu below the drawing. Picking a different polygon and direction and sequencing them together makes each snowflake we designed almost as unique as the ones found in nature.


Adding more steps turned a simple design into this. FROZEN FRACTALS EVERYWHERE!

Check out our design in action by clicking here. While it may not be apparent at first, we’ve actually created a line of code which tells the game how to draw our design. Not bad for our first step, right?

Next, we went with Code Boogie, where players have to teach Santa’s elves how to dance through programmable moves. After a nifty opening routine by a fellow elf dancer, players have to copy their moves with the instructions on the left.

The difficulty is increased with each level and at the end of each one, players can reveal the JavaScript code they used to make their elf dance.

Visiting “Santa’s Village,” there’s a variety of different games to choose from. And a few like Santa Search and Santa Selfie are more diversions than sneaky edutainment options. Try them out each day and come back on December 24, where Google will track Santa’s progress across the globe.

While these games won’t turn you into a coding wizard–you’ll have to take real classes for that–they can make you believe that creating code is within your reach. Thanks to Google, we can discover that we have the capacity to learn something new. Now pass that hot chocolate!

Want to know more about the benefits of becoming a software designer? Watch our video below.

If you’ve got a love for video games, you already have the problem-solving skills employers want.

Join the Conversation: Try out the games and tell us your experience in taking your first step as a future coder on our Facebook page.

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