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Chicago USO Event

On September 30, 2018, United Service Organizations (USO) of Illinois and BMO Harris Bank, a Military Youth Programs sponsor, hosted an afternoon of coding fun at the futuristic makerspace Code Play Learn in Oak Park, Illinois. The age-appropriate sessions opened the world of coding to participants through the creation of Minecraft mods and programming Raspberry Pi systems.

Military kids in grades 1-8 learned about the JAVA programming language and built their own Minecraft mods that could be uploaded into the popular video game, Minecraft. In post-event feedback, one of the young participants shared they loved learning about coding, and having practical experience was key to their future success. In addition to the fun coding session, BMO Harris Bank gave each participant a year subscription to beanz Magazine!

The program’s high schoolers explored how software and hardware can be combined and configured in infinite combinations to make and create. As part of the program, each participant received a Raspberry Pi from BMO Harris Bank and learned how to use Python to control hardware, LED lights, and cameras. The son of an Air Force Reservist was already planning his next coding project and shared, “I hope to mess around and tinker with it and take it to school.”

For the participants’ parents, the highlight of the day was seeing their children’s eyes opened by the world of coding. “Thank you so much for the wonderful program and allowing my child to discover new passions,” one parent said. “She can’t wait to do more with the Raspberry Pi!”

Juanita Hardin, Air Force Veteran and Chair of BMO Harris Bank’s Veterans Advisory Council says, “At BMO, we are committed to supporting military families. We understand that while the individual is recruited the entire family serves. Today’s STEM event is a natural evolution in BMO’s advocacy of financial literacy that grooms tomorrow’s innovators.”

USO strengthens America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country, throughout their service to the nation. One of the ways USO of Illinois supports military families is through USO Military Family Programs, which are designed to lift the spirts and provide a sense of community support while members enjoy unique recreational and educational opportunities.

Learn More

Online Coding Camps in Minecraft


Get Started with a Raspberry Pi