5 tips to introduce Algorithms to Children
- Mar 20, 2016
The term “Algorithm” may seem pretty irrelevant to children's education (especially when they are in elementary schools) but it does hold huge importance in the field of programming. Coding has become the basic technological literacy. To write a flawless code, you should know how to write an algorithm first. Algorithms are present all around us, orchestrating everything from technology used by us to the everyday decisions made by us. Algorithms are pretty interesting, considering the fact that the underlying principle behind them is quite simple. It's necessary for your children to have a clear idea of algorithmic concepts before they enter the world of programming. Let's go through a set of stepwise tips to explain algorithms to children.
Explain the basic Definition of “Algorithm” to children
This can be deemed the first step to introduce coding to children. Your children should know the definition of “algorithm” before they start writing one. An algorithm can be said to be a set of detailed step-wise instructions to solve a specific problem or complete a specific task. In computing, algorithms are written by programmers to instruct a computer about the ways to execute a specific task.
Encourage your children to think about Algorithms in a general sense
It's necessary for children to think about algorithms in a general sense to get a better understanding of the subject. Algorithms are present everywhere. A simple recipe to make a particular food-item can be said to be a type of algorithm. The method used to calculate simple problems involving basic operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division is also an algorithm. A simple example of an algorithm based on your children's weekday morning routine is provided below for an easy reference.
- Get up
- Get dressed
- Eat breakfast
- If weather is “sunny”
Walk to the school
Go to the school with parents
You see that this is an algorithm in the general sense depicting your children's weekday morning routine.
Introduce the basic Algorithms used in Computer Programming to children
After your children get accustomed to the basic algorithmic concepts in the general sense, it's necessary that they start thinking of implementing algorithms in computer programming. But remember that this is just the start and hence, their algorithms should be based on simple problems. Introduce them to such simple problems. A simple example can be seen below.
This is an algorithm that finds the sum of three numbers taken as user input.
- Declare the 3 variables x, y, z, sum /*”sum” is a variable where the summation of the 3 numbers is stored. “x”, “y” and “z” are the variables that store the values taken as user-input*/
- Read the 3 user-input values x, y, z
- Perform the addition of the 3 values taken as user input and store them in sum.
5. Display sum
Make your children aware of the Techniques involved in writing good Algorithms
There are certain techniques implemented for writing good algorithms. Introduce the techniques to your children. These techniques are mentioned below.
- The inputs as well as outputs of an algorithm need to be defined specifically. The programmer needs to keep that in mind while writing an algorithm and do accordingly. Ask your children to implement the same technique in their writing.
- Urge your children to write each step of an algorithm in a clear as well as in an unambiguous manner.
- An algorithm should definitely be the most effective and best way among many ways to get the solution of a specific problem. Advise your children to keep that in mind while writing an algorithm.
- An algorithm should not have any computer code. It should always be written in a manner which can be implemented in many similar coding languages. Advise your children to keep that idea in their minds and implement the same in their writing.
Urge your children to write their very own Algorithms
It's necessary that your children start creating their very own algorithms after they get introduced to the basics of the subject. The objective can be very simple. It can be a recipe to cook a meal or it can be one based on mathematical operations as to determine the largest of 3 numbers. Instruct your children to be specific with their instructions as much as possible. Remind them the fact that computers don't have the ability to understand a user's intentions, a user has to specify each instruction to a computer to perform a specific job. For e.g. if you don't ask the computer to bring out a glass first to pour a glass of water, you will end up spilling the water on your floor.
Algorithmic thinking is hugely beneficial in STEM education. It's not only enclosed within the boundaries of computer science but also finds application in subjects like Math (e.g. step-by-step procedures to solve a specific problem), Science (e.g. step-by-step procedures to get the result of an experiment) etc. Algorithmic thinking enables children to come to quick solutions in a step-by-step manner which is immensely beneficial for their higher education when they face advanced problems related to mathematics, science, programming etc. It's necessary for children to indulge in practices related to algorithms to strengthen and develop algorithmic thinking abilities. Algorithmic thinking can be the stepping stone to a fruitful career in STEM as well as in other educational fields.
Futurite aims to bring high quality STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education to school students in India. Our mission is to use cutting-edge technologies such as Robotics and 3D Printing to impart a thorough grounding in STEM subjects and concepts to school students while making their learning experience fun, engaging and hands-on. Futurite has been operating in Dubai successfully (as Premier Genie) since a number of years, working with over 25 of the top international schools and teaching 1000+ students. Futurite has been founded by alumni from IIT, IIM, JU and HEC Paris.
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