How to teach computational thinking

I really doubt that there are some much better ways to teach computational thinking ideas at a young age – leveraging all the technology and automation we have today. One feature of systems like Scratch is that their programs are visually assembled from brick-like blocks, rather than having to be imported. Usually, in practice, programs have a fairly linear structure. But blocks do two things. First, they avoid the need for any explicit syntax (instead just “does the block fit or not?”). And second, by having a stack of possible blocks on the side of the screen, they immediately recorded what was possible.

And perhaps even more important: this whole setup forces one to have only a small collection of possible blocks, which is in fact a microworld. In the full Wolfram Language, there are over 5000 built-in functions, and simply turning all of them into blocks would be overwhelming and useless. But the problem is to choose among all these possible functions some (50?) Microworld, each microworld only involves a small group of functions, but each function is selected to be able to perform the moderators. endowed and interesting with them.

With our current technology, those microworlds can be easily involved in image computation, understanding natural language or machine learning – and most importantly being able to get in touch with the real world right away. And I really doubt that by including some of these 1960s past, we will be able to expose young children much more directly and successfully to ideas of computational thinking that they will be able to take them with you on arrival to learn more later.

#### How will things turn out?

The process of educating children – and the world – of computational thinking is just beginning. I’m so glad that with Wolfram Language and the systems around it, we’ve finally got tools that I think can solve core technology problems. But there are many more structural, organizational and other problems.

I am trying to do my part, such as by writing An elementary introduction to the Wolfram language, released Wolfram programming laboratoryand create for free Wolfram Open Cloud. But these are only the first steps. A wide variety of books and courses are needed to target different population groups. Need to identify communities and activities online and offline. There should be ways to deliver what is currently possible to students. And there should be a way for teachers to help.

We have a few basic things at work. A packed based course Primary introduction. A Wolfram Challenges website with computational thinking and coding challenges. More structured mentoring program for individual students to do projects. A franchisable version of Wolfram Summer Camp. And more. Some of these are part of Wolfram study; some come from The Wolfram Foundation. We are looking at a broader non-profit initiative to support the delivery of computational thinking education. And we even thought of creating a school around computational thinking – not at least to show at least one model of how it could be done.

But beyond whatever we are doing, what I’m most happy with is that other people and organizations are starting to move forward as well. There are on-campus programs, after-school programs, summer programs. There was the onset of very large-scale programs across the country.

Our company and facility are quite small. To be able to educate the world about computational thinking requires the participation of many other people and organizations. Thanks to three decades of work, we are at a time of technology. But now we have to really bring it to the kids all over the world in the right way.

Computational thinking is something I think can be taught successfully to a lot of people, regardless of their economic resources. And because it’s so new, countries or regions with more complex education settings or higher tech prowess don’t really have any major advantages over anyone else in implementing it. .

Ultimately, the vast majority of the world’s population will be able to think computationally and possibly communicate with the computer using code – just like they can now read and write. But today we are just beginning to make this a reality. I am very happy to be able to contribute technology and a little more to this. I look forward to seeing what I hope will be rapid progress on this issue over the next year or so and in the years to come.

Try calculating the example from this blog post in Wolfram Open Cloud ยป

This post appeared for the first time on Blog by Stephen Wolfram

Leave a Comment