LeBron James, Bugs Bunny and ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ shoot for a new generation of students through basketball-inspired coding programs

Microsoft Stores has also created an educator version of these film-themed workshops (broken into two 45-minute lessons) that will make it possible for teachers (for students ages 8 and up) to incorporate STEAM lessons in their curricula.

For more information on the new coding workshops, visit this What’s in Store blog post.

For older learners, Sarah Guthals, a principal program manager in Microsoft’s developer relations organization, built two Microsoft Learn lessons around using player stats to help a coach make real-time decisions in the middle of a game.

In basketball, you work together over an almost-100-foot court to control the ball, sink shots in a net, accumulate points and triumph over the other team. There’s a lot going on per player, per team; a dizzying array of stats that help the team figure out what’s going well and what to improve. There’s a wealth of information there that transfers well to more complex lessons.

In the first lesson Guthals created, learners are going to predict efficiency ratings with machine learning and Visual Studio Code, using data from human and Tune Squad basketball players.

In the second lesson, they’ll build a web app that uses additional machine learning models in real time to help a coach decide who needs a break at a certain point during a game and who should be put in the game to yield the highest likelihood of winning.

Through these modules, learners will explore and understand data from multiple sources, use machine learning to input missing data and integrate data created by a machine learning model into an app.

“We’re trying to stay very relevant to what people who care about basketball might care about, while also guiding learners through an introduction to the Python programming language, data science, machine learning and developing web applications,” says Guthals, who goes by Dr. G since she taught computer science at the university level (and has a Ph.D.). She builds content that includes learn modules as well as videos, and she uses different tools within Microsoft, such as Visual Studio Code and GitHub. She also grew up in Southern California and is a Lakers fan. “What I know is that context and themes and narratives that tie into technical education yield better transfer of that knowledge, so if someone can be passionate and excited about what they’re learning because of that contextual narrative, they’re more likely to persist through challenges. They are more likely to fully understand what they’re learning and why, and therefore they are more likely to be able to transfer that knowledge to new problems.”

There are instructions to set all of this up, and Guthals has also pre-recorded videos to walk through all the lessons, for additional support.

“My hope is that we can show people who already have this passion, that there are tools that can help them dive deeper into the passion they already care about,” Guthals says. “Tech is a tool that they can use to solve problems that they are already interested in.”

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