When you hear “Computational Thinking in the classroom” the idea in your head may instantly jump to fifteen to thirty kids using laptops or tablets in their classroom; which also just seems like a big source of distraction. However, our goal with the CodeNC initiative isn’t to have tech filled classrooms. Instead our main focus is getting students interested and able to utilize the relatively modern way of thinking and problem solving which is called Computational Thinking; we’ll do this by creating fun and custom “Unplugged” activities that cater specifically to different school subjects.
The main premise of this methodology of computational thinking is to break down big problems into smaller, more manageable problems, we refer to this as decomposition. Once we have smaller problems we then examine the issue to see if there are any possible patterns between them. Taking a look at our different patterns will then allow us to perform what we like to call, abstraction; this means we look at the similarities or patterns and see if they can help point us to a possible uniform solution. Next and lastly, we focus on creating an algorithm that is simply, a series of steps that we can take to actually solve the problem. It may seem complicated, but when applied to a seemingly difficult problem, it makes finding the solution so much easier!
Psychology itself is the study of the human mind and its functions. Knowing this, I was very interested in creating a CodeNC activity that allows students to analyze the way they think, while at the same time encourage them to use computational thinking as they participate in the activity. While still a work in progress, the activity is called “Think It Through”; the primary goal concept of the activity is to split students up into two to three teams and then simply give them an array of cards/pictures that will have one commonalty that connects the cards and their goal is to find, establish, and sort the commonalities. The catch is that the aren’t told that; they’re only instructed to begin as soon as they receive the cards. This lets them realize that with communication and computational thinking they can break down this big problem and collectively find the solution (the commonality) even when they aren’t told step by step how to do it. They will be amazed once they realize they can tackle the seemingly massive problem!
Additional Resources for Computational Thinking: