Just in time for the holidays, Google has unveiled the newest version of the Santa Tracker. Leading up to Christmas Eve, children around the world are encouraged to log on and help Santa's elves with the various preparations needed for the big day. With some exploration, users can unlock a plethora of videos, music, and games (including reindeer races!) as it gets closer to Christmas. The assortment of fun is a cleverly veiled way to get children to learn about coding, cartology, and other valuable skillsets. By clicking on a globe, Google offers an interactive way to learn about Christmas traditions all over the world.
Children (and young-at-heart adults) with an Android or Chrome extension can click through the North Pole and watch the holiday magic happen. The tracker is a ton of fun, and if a little learning happens, that makes it even better. Users are urged to check back every day to see what new activities the elves have been cooking up.
The project had previously been run with NORAD (the organization has been tracking our jolly red friend since the 1950s), but the groups split. You can find NORAD's Bing-powered tracker here and decide which is better. After all, what's Christmas without a little corporate rivalry?
This isn't Google's first effort to inspire future developers: Made With Code is an initiative that aims to teach and encourage girls to code. In today's tech world, men outnumber women 7 to 3. Google aims to tip the scale with projects and donations. Using programs like Code the Holidays, the initiative shows that computer science can be a creative and freeing field. "Code can be the most creative tool in your toolbox," the website explains. "Suspend your disbelief and let's get cracking."