I spent last week with Microsoft DPE helping out at the UK Interactive Gaming stand as part of the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham. Big Bang Fair is a national exhibition of all things STEM, they do an absolutely amazing job of getting kids excited about all things “sciency” and technical. We shared our stand with some great people from UKIE, Autodesk and BAFTA. Our role as Windows Games Ambassadors was to promote Xbox in Education by teaching kids how to use Kodu Game Lab and Project Spark. We also spent a lot of time talking to parents about what skills. There were some amazingly talented kids who were already making their own game and really getting stuck into learning to program and create.
It’s great to see Microsoft bringing back XNA in an educational context. They are offering some great deals on consoles and Dreamspark subscriptions as well as some excellent teaching resources and tutorials to be used in schools. We gave out thousands of Dreamspark codes to students and teachers during the event. Students can find more information about Dreamspark here and institutions can find more information about Xbox For Education here.
A lot of our time was spent showing kids how to get started using Kodu Game Lab to create their own content. Kodu is a visual programming system similar to things like Scratch and Stencyl which can be used to create a variety of different games on the PC and 360. I was surprised by how many kids had used Kodu at school. They actually taught us a thing or two! It’s brilliant to hear that the foundations of computer science are slowly becoming part of the curriculum.
We were also provided with some rather snazzy new Surface Pro 2’s to show off new PC and Xbox One game, Project Spark. By using a visual programming system similar to Kodu, Project Spark allows it’s player’s even more control over how they build their game. Players are provided with some very powerful terraforming tools and are let loose with an even more expansive and detailed arsenal of assets and logical components. There really is no limit to what can be created.
We had an absolutely fantastic time at the Big Bang Fair and met some really interesting people. We spent about an hour in the hotel bar learning all about the exciting world of Rubik’s Cube competitions and the engineering and algorithmic developments that went into the world’s fastest robot cube solver. CubeStormer 3 was developed by Mike Dobson and David Gilday and broke the world record at the show. They even inspired me to order my own cube!
Thanks to Microsoft and all the guys on our stand for making it such a great event!