Star Wars isnâ€™t just crazy marketing money for people who make licensed goods and long lines at theaters this holiday seasonâ€¦and next holiday seasonâ€¦and the May after that. Since being sold to Disney, the Star Wars franchise has also made impressive efforts with their charitable arm called Star Wars: Force for Change.
The newest Force for Change offering even involves two new characters, Rey and BB-8, as well as Princess Leia and secret scumbag R2-D2 and focuses on teaching basic coding to kids.
The Walt Disney Company has partnered with Code.org to create Star Wars: Building a Galaxy with Code, an interactive learning experience that has launched on Code.org and will eventually be available as a drag-and-drop tablet and smartphone app for on-the-go educating (or teaching kids young enough that using a keyboard isnâ€™t a viable option).
All of this is in preparation for the Hour of Code campaign, in honor of Computer Science Education Week, December 7-13, 2015.
The Hour of Code events seek to promote awareness of an interest in computer sciences by teaching a layperson an hour-long lesson in coding. Star Wars: Building a Galaxy begins with simple commands to move BB-8 through the desert junkyards of Jakku, and progresses until users are programming a simple game featuring C-3PO and R2-D2. At the end of the tutorial, youâ€™ll get a link to your game you can share with family and friends.
Disney is also donating $100,000 to Code.org on top of helping with Star Wars: Building a Galaxy with Code and will be hosting some Hour of Code events when actual Computer Science Education Week is upon us, mere days before The Force Awakens is in theaters. A bunch of Star Wars-themed education tools will also be making their way into classrooms, like 100 participating classrooms getting programmable versions of Spheroâ€™s BB-8 (even more interactive than the retail version).
The interestingly undersold aspect of Star Wars: Building a Galaxy with Code is how female oriented it is. Rey and Princess Leia are the only human characters to appear and despite Kathleen Kennedy initially describing BB-8 as a â€œheâ€ in some of the Hour of Code video lectures, the little ball droid might be a girl.
â€œWe hope the appeal of characters like Princess Leia and Rey will help fuel greater participation in science and math, especially among girls, around the world,â€ said Kathleen Kennedy in a press release. â€œComputer science has helped shape our legacy and changed the way movies are made, which is why programs like the Hour of Code are so important to us.â€
Though, really, who is going to object to more coding women who are also into Star Wars?
You can try the tutorial for yourself right now and start moving a cute, animated BB-8 around Jakku looking for junk at Code.org/StarWars. Thatâ€™s also where the drag-and-drop version will be made available in a few weeks.