Day 11 (WC)

Before you leave class today you will be able to:

  • Define processing as the work done (possibly by a computer) to turn an input into an output
  • Define an algorithm as the series of commands a computer uses to process information
  • Develop and iteratively improve an algorithm for processing information based on given constraints


  1. So far we’ve explored what inputs and outputs mean in the context of a computer. Today we’re going to look more closely at processing by doing a couple of unplugged activities.
  2. Get into pairs
  3. Each pair should get roughly 10 cards. Place the cards in a stack face down between you & your partner. DO not to touch the cards until told to do so.
  4. Rules of the challenge:
    1. No talking during the challenge
    2. The goal is to get the cards in a line, face up, in number order
    3. When you are done, a team member should say “Done!” and the teacher will give the team a time.
  5. In your Word Online file for this class respond quietly to the following:
    1. What are the input, output, and processing in this activity?
    2. How is your approach to solving this problem different from how a computer might have to approach it?
    3. Discuss with your group your responses
  6. There are many ways your solutions might be different from how a computer would solve this problem. In general, however, the biggest difference is that computers need to be programmed with a plan without knowing the exact cards that they are going to get. In the next activity we’re going to look at how a computer might solve this same problem.
  7. Get a copy of the activity guide
  8. Read the activity instructions, then review as a class.
  9. Practice using the Tips section on the activity guide. You should have a strategy that works for every arrangement of the cards, not just the ones that you have out currently. Be sure you are switching between Sorter and Pointer roles.
  10. After several minutes share the approaches you are using.
  11. Based on what you observed from other groups, update, revise, or improve your own method. You should be aiming to create algorithms that work for greater numbers of cards (ideally any number of cards) and that work regardless of the original organization of the cards.
  12. Return to the challenge, move to eight cards if you haven’t already. Once your group has a method you think works, write or draw a description of it on the activity guide in the space provided.
  13. Processing Uses Algorithms: Read this section together as a class, calling out the new vocabulary word algorithm.
  14. In your Word Online file for this class respond to the following quietly:
    1. What step of the problem-solving process did you think was most important in this activity? Why?
    2. Why would someone create an algorithm if they already know how to solve a problem by hand?
  15. Computers help us solve problems by processing inputs to make outputs. As we saw in the second activity today, that can often mean more work up front to develop very specific steps a computer could use to process the information. It can be tricky and require lots of our problem-solving skills to do this. The benefit, however, is that once you have the problem solved once you can make a computer solve that problem for you every time after that.

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