Microsoft YouthSpark Continues to Provide Technical Skills and Education

Image: Microsoft

You might not have noticed, but Microsoft is busy doing more, these days, than just purchasing Mojang, home of Minecraft. They are also continuing their dedication to youth education and promotion of technical skills.

Microsoft YouthSpark, launched two years ago, provides opportunities to 300 million youth around the world. (Check out the YouthSpark Hub, where you can see the opportunities available.) Now they are boosting other initiatives as well.

* The TEALS program (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) is putting software engineers in 131 high schools across 18 states plus the District of Columbia as volunteer computer science teachers. This almost doubles the numbers of participating schools from last year, aiming to better meet the needs of students interested in learning computer science.

* YouthSpark summer camps held at Microsoft retail stores will continue throughout the school year for K-12 students. For examples of how this helps the youth of today, some of the students are sharing their stories.

* Imagine Cup, a student technology contest, is continuing next year with the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2015, open to students 16 and older. Imagine Cup is designed to encourage scientific youth to help solve some of the world’s most difficult problems. All participants channel the Imagine Cup theme of, “Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems.” The contest began in 2003, and now has participants in almost 200 countries. John Booth wrote about the contest on GeekDad last year.

* For students around the world who aren’t fluent in technology, Microsoft is also expanding their Digital Literacy Curriculum to more languages, increasing access.

And, of course, Microsoft has acquired Mojang. I have high hopes for what they will do with Minecraft. If they can develop even more educational programs surrounding the oh-so-popular sandbox game, without affecting its base functionality and appeal, I will be one happy homeschooling mom.

Note: As part of the Windows Champions program, I have been given the use of Windows 8.1 devices. The views expressed in these posts are my honest opinions about the company’s initiatives.

Jenny Bristol is an Editor at GeekDad and a founding Director at GeekMom. She is a lifelong geek who spends her time learning, writing, homeschooling her two wickedly smart kids, losing herself in history, and mastering the art of traveling on a shoestring.