Purpose: Learn about algorithms and innovation. They create
algorithms to teach others something that they’re good at and create a
rapid prototype to innovate their process.
Setup: Computers can only do things they’re told to do. So,
computer scientists use a special language, called code, to tell
computers what to do. They write a list of steps in code that a
computer then follows. That list of steps is called an algorithm. You
can write or follow an algorithm to complete any type of task.
When people make something new or improve something, that's called
innovation. Programmers, inventors, and designers all over are working
to build innovative technology, like cars that drive themselves or
robots that go deep underwater.
Time needed: 20-30 minutes
- 1 blank sheet of paper
- 1 larger poster or sheet of
- Markers or colored pencils
To get started, think of something that you could teach to somebody
else in 15 minutes, based on what you're really good at. Maybe you
know how to draw a house, make a cootie-catcher, make a smoothie, do a
dance move, or shoot a basket.
Once you know what you want to teach others, create an algorithm
with three or more steps.
Write a list of the steps, with each step on a new line.
After you write your algorithm, test it by following the steps.
How did you do? Were you able to follow the algorithm? If not,
that’s okay! This often happens to computer scientists! In computer
science, a problem or error in your code is called a bug. When you
find and fix a bug, it's called debugging.
For the last part of the activity, you're going to do something
called "rapid prototyping." A prototype is a rough model of
your idea or design that you can show to other people. It can be as
simple as a drawing, or it can be created with common materials such
as cardboard, paper, string, and rubber bands. When you make different
prototypes of your idea, you can see what works and what doesn't.
Now, think of the task you just created an algorithm for: how could
technology be used to make it easier or more fun?
Create a prototype of your new technology by sketching it on a large
sheet of paper.
Remember, this is a rapid prototype! That means you're going to be
working fast! That way you can quickly see what works and what doesn't.
Once you’ve sketched your prototype, share it with others and
continue to look for ways to make it even better.
Permission for use of Code.org activities is provided by Code.org,
a non-profit dedicated to giving every student in every school the
opportunity to learn computer science. See www.code.org.