This week is national Computer Science Education Week. This large-scale effort is a call to action for schools across America about the need to incorporate computer science education in all grade levels. Along with promoting computer science, the initiative also calls for students to participate in an hour of code. Computer science and coding are key components in all of our schools at FWSU. The understanding and thinking skills captured by learning about code may become invaluable.
More importantly, the ideas of computational thinking and problem solving have been incorporated into classrooms throughout our districts for several years (check out these posts). We know that our students are going to need the strategies learned to be successful when they graduate.They are also going to need the confidence and ability to walk into these complicated unstructured and undefined problems.
Two years ago we launched Innovation Labs in all of our schools to allow students the opportunities to explore, create, make, think and build ideas. We also started STEM programs in our schools to enhance the concepts of computer science, problem-solving and computational thinking. There is a lot going on – and great learning occurring.
So this week FWSU schools are coding and thinking computationally to celebrate National Computer Science Education Week. But we also have been doing this every week and will continue to do so. It is what we do.
On a final note, I ran across a fun activity in a research blog recently that you can try in your classroom, at work or even at home. It is a brainteaser and reinforces the idea that good thinkers and puzzle solvers make good coders. This activity was created by David Malan from Harvard – the instructions and thinking are below.
Put these instructions up on the board:
- Stand up and assign yourself the number 1.
- Pair off with another person, add your two numbers together, and adopt the sum as your new number.
- One of you should sit down.
- Repeat steps 2-3 until one person is left standing.
Even in a room with hundreds of people, the last person should end up with the total count of everyone in the room. Because the adding in pairs takes place simultaneously, even if the number of people doubles in size, it only requires one more comparison. This is an example of logarithmic efficiency.
Have fun and enjoy National Computer Science Week!
Ned Kirsch is the Superintendent of Schools at FWSU. You can follow him on Twitter at @betavt.