Google is using the excitement of getting presents on Christmas Day to get kids interested in computer coding.
This December, thanks to Google’s Santa Tracker, people will be able to keep tabs on the mythical gift-giving demigod, following him on Christmas Eve as he crosses the planet to hand out presents
Features of last year’s Santa Tracker return, including the option to send a call from Santa to your loved ones, and the option to stream Santa’s journey to your TV on Christmas Eve using its Chromecast dongle. These features, plus the ability to access the interactive village via Android app, show that Google is trying to make its Santa-stalking suite more advanced than its rivals’ attempts. Google teamed up with long-term Santa trackers NORAD in 2012 to follow Father Christmas, but the military body switched its allegiance last year, siding with Microsoft to release a mobile Santa Tracker. The war on Christmas has begun.
The game culminates on Christmas Eve, when users get behind the helm of Santa’s high-tech sleigh dashboard and track his movements through the night with help from Google Maps through the site, apps or with Chromecast.
Since releasing its diversity numbers earlier this year, Google has been rolling out programs to get children, especially girls and minorities, interested in coding early. The company’s diversity report showed how overwhelmingly white and male the company was, and Google pledged to spearhead initiatives that could create a more robust workforce in the future.
Google has since launched Made With Code, an initiative to help encourage school-aged girls to study computer science. The company also donates millions of dollars to support outreach programs like Black Girls Code, with plans to expand more high level computer science programs typically offered in predominately white, affluent schools. Blacks and Hispanics generally make up less than 5 percent of computer science degree holders. Minority computer science degree holders are often overlooked because tech companies don’t recruit talent from historically black colleges and universities, which produce about 35 percent of black computer science majors.