What is Computational Thinking?
Computational Thinking is sometimes referred to as algorithmic thinking, but computational thinking is the more comprehensive term. A simple definition is that computational thinking is a set of problem-solving methods that involve expressing problems and their solutions in ways that a computer (or a person) could effectively carry out.
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Important elements of computational thinking include:
- Decomposition - Breaking a large complex problem down into smaller parts is a well recognised strategy for making problems more manageable.
- Pattern recognition - Looking for patterns in a problem and noticing what these patterns have in common and what is different, makes possible the use of previously successful strategies to formulate solutions for current problems and programming.
- Abstraction - A problem can be examined at a number of different levels, depending on how many details you include or remove. A high level of abstraction would be an overview with only a few important details. The removal of detail that is less important or unrelated to solving the problem at hand, assists in locating the 'core' of the problem and ensures that the most important aspects are addressed first.
- Algorithms - A way of planning logically and working step-by-step through a problem and writing unambiguous instructions to complete a task.
Creating problem solvers
Since computational thinking involves teaching students how to use a range of effective problem solving strategies, it is an area of the Digital Technologies curriculum that is easily integrated with other areas of the curriculum such as mathematics, science and literacy, where this type of thinking is also encouraged.
Some of the dispositions developed in a computational thinker include:
- Thinking logically about solutions to problems with an open mindset.
- Demonstrating perseverance in finding and fixing mistakes.
- Communicating and collaborating with peers in order to find solutions or meet a common goal.
- Reflecting upon or re-evaluating to come up with the most effective or efficient solution.
Skills related to computational thinking therefore not only precede 'computer programming' but are essential for success in this field and in many other areas of life.
Computational Thinking 1
Our Computational Thinking 1 course is called Camping Adventure and has been written for children aged 5-8 years.
In this course Tilley, Charlie, and their dad are going on an overnight camping trip to Pango Rangi Bush. They are excited learn about some of the star patterns that we can see in the night sky and watch a meteor shower.
On the way, they learn about solving problems by breaking tasks into smaller steps. They also must read maps and follow steps in the correct sequence to accomplish everyday tasks. Tilley and Charlie practice using simple logic grids and flow charts to solve problems they encounter. Tilley's class will be very impressed by her digital presentation of the trip.
This course demonstrates how easily Computational Thinking can be integrated with Mathematics, English, and Science curricula, and its importance in everyday life.
Computational Thinking 2
The Computational Thinking 2 course is called Creature Feature Zoo and is suitable for students aged 7-11 years.
It's Charlie's birthday and he has invited his family and friends to celebrate with an overnight trip to the zoo.
This Creature Feature Zoo has an amazing robot caretaker, Zippi, who is programmed by the brilliant scientist Amanda and her daughter Lucia.
Charlie and Tilley learn decision-making strategies as they plan the day; choosing where to go, who to invite, and what to wear and eat. With their friends, they detect patterns and find ways to break complex problems into smaller parts, using tools like logic grids, node graphs and flow charts to organise and prioritise information.
They've learned a lot about the animals in the zoo and helped to care for them ... but even they were surprised by what they found in the 'restricted area'!
Computational Thinking 3
In the Computational Thinking 3 course, Saving Food Avengers, join Charlie and and Tilley as they break problems down, develop their logical thinking skills, debug and create sequential sets of instructions for Ross and try their hand at renovation.
Alongside these three interactive courses, Code Avengers provide a number of offline activities and worksheets that teachers can use to consolidate students understanding of Computational Thinking, so don't forget to check out our lesson plans and other resources when you visit the Teacher Tab at https://www.codeavengers.com
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