is computational thinking a 21st century skill?

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Is Computational Thinking a 21st Century Skill?. Joe Kmoch Milwaukee Public Schools joe@jkmoch.com. Roadmap. What is computational thinking What does it look like? Some essential concepts (Computing and the 3 A s) Why CT and K-12 students CT is everywhere - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Intro to CS Standards Exploring CS Computational Thinking

Is Computational Thinkinga 21st Century Skill?Joe KmochMilwaukee Public Schoolsjoe@jkmoch.com1RoadmapWhat is computational thinkingWhat does it look like?Some essential concepts (Computing and the 3 As)Why CT and K-12 studentsCT is everywhereTime for you to get involvedNext steps2My GoalsMake the case thatThe principles of CT are applicable to many subjects areas. CT is very much ingrained in critical 21st Century SkillsCT is a mechanism to handle larger, more complex problems that are by their nature cross-curricular (ie real world)3What is Computational Thinking (CT)?

Application of Computer Science (CS) concepts to problems in virtually all disciplinesUse of computational resources such as tools, techniques along with data to solve complex problemsStrong supports for the 4 essential 21st Century Skills (communication, collaboration, critical thinking and ps, creativity and innovation as defined on ps21.org) Encourages broad-based thinking about cross-curricular problems

4Some Examples of Computational Thinking(Jeannette Wing, CMU)CT is reformulating a seemingly difficult problem into one which we know how to solve (reduction, embedding, transformation, simulation)CT is using abstraction and decomposition in tackling a large complex taskCT is judging a systems design for its simplicity and eleganceCT is judging a problem solution for its simplicity and eleganceCT is prevention, detection and recovery from worst case scenarios through redundancy, damage containment and error correctionCT is modularizing something in anticipation of multiple uses5Simple Daily Examples(Jeannette Wing, CMU)Looking up a name in an alphabetically sorted listLinear start at the topBinary start in the middleStanding in line at a bankPerformance analysis of task schedulingPutting things in your childs knapsack for the dayPre-fetching and caching

66...and moreTaking your kids to their various activitiesTraveling salesman problems graph theoryCooking a gourmet meal (actually most any meal)Parallel processingStoring away your childs Lego pieces scattered in the floorUsing hashing (eg, by shape, by color)Doing laundry, getting food at a buffetPipelining the wash, dry and iron stages; plates, salad, entre, dessert stations

7...and one moreEven in grade school we learn algorithms (long division, factoring, GCD, ...) and abstract data types (sets, tables, ...)8The Computing part of CTComputing is fundamentally concerned with two phenomena: data and processes these are everywhere9DataAnything that can be observed or imagined in the physical or logical worlds: numbers, images, songs, positions of planets, subway maps, medical records

10ProcessA sequence of actions: setting up a coffee maker starts with getting out the filter, placing it in the basket, filling the reservoir with water

11Abstraction the first A of CTTechnique of generalizing from specific instances (process and data)Capture essential common characteristics while discarding unessential characteristicsOperate simultaneously at multiple layers and define relationships between layers12Abstractions exampleCooking a mealAt the highest level we might have the list of courses that make up the mealAppetizer(s)Soup/saladEntreeDessertAnd an order in which to work on them (project timeline)13Cooking a Meal AbstractionAt the next level, we might have the details of the individual partsThe recipes, for exampleAt the next level, we might have the details of how to do certain cooking actions doing a reduction or pureeing, or rolling dough(All process abstractions)14Example of data abstractionThis Chicago transit map is a data abstraction; contains essential info like stations and transfer points, avoids details like exact street locations of stations or distances15

Process Abstractions of the mindTechniquesFor example: Divide and ConquerAbstraction of how to solve a problem, not actually a solution to any particular problem.Take a problem and divide it into several pieceSolve or complete each pieceRe-combine the pieces to solve original problem16Automation the 2nd leg of CTMechanizing our abstractions, abstraction layers and their relationshipsAgentsCan be a person or a computerCan be a group of people or computersAny combination of these17Automation AgentsUse each for what the agent can do wellPeopleInterpretSpeed (in certain areas, eg understanding)ComputersVast memorySpeed (in certain areas, eg searching)18Analysis 3rd leg of CTEnsuring that abstractions (algorithms, programs, databases, systems of all sorts) are efficient and are correctAnalysis includesAlgorithmic and performance analysisSpecificationVerification, debugging, testing, experimentation19Academic definition of CTComputational Thinking involves solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior, by drawing on the concepts fundamental to computer science (J. Wing, 2006)20Why CT for students?Claim: Students need to acquire thinking habits of computer scientistsClaim: These are widely applicable in the information society in which these students live and work regardless of their eventual profession

21CT and K-12K-12th graders should be introduced to computational thinking in order to set these fundamental thinking habits firmly in the minds of the next generationRecall the 3 As of CTAbstraction, Automation, AnalysisCompare with High Order Thinking Skills Analysis, creativity, evaluation22Implications for K-12CT wouldEncourage further inclusion of high order thinking skillsEncourage students to develop tools and techniques that will become more important for successTheir own toolkit23 More Implications for K-12Is in step with the increased emphasis of technology in careers and in lifeCan help move more digital natives from consuming technology to creating, adapting, modifying technology Marc Prensky coined the terms digital natives and digital immigrants (most of us are the latter)24CT Concepts, CapabilitiesData collection, analysis, representationAbstractionAnalysis and model validationAutomationTesting and verificationAlgorithms and proceduresProblem DecompositionControl StructuresParallelizationSimulation2521st Century Skills (Dispositions and Predispositions)CollaborationWorking with others toward common goalCommunication reading, writing, presenting CT-based solutionsCritical Thinking & Problem Solvingabstraction, automation, analysisCreativity and InnovationConfidence with complexity, ambiguityPersistence with difficult problemsDeal with open-ended problems26What CT is notDoes it mean we should all think like a computer? (NO)Does it mean that everyone should be a programmer? (NO)Although more and more careers are involving something that looks like programming most manufacturing careers require CNC (programming)27Characteristics of CTThinking abstractlyThinking at multiple levels of abstractionLearning to manage complexityLearning to deal with scaleLogical reasoningEmphasis on a holistic approach rather than on specific topicsInvolves data and processes

28For example, CT hasBeen instrumental in many new discoveries such as DNA mapping, development of new materials, new formulations, new techniques

29ThinkComputational BiologyComputational ChemistryComputational PhysicsComputational LinguisticsComputational FinanceComputational EconomicsComputational almost anything you can name.30CT is everywhereBiologyDNA sequences are strings in a languageProtein structures modeled as knotsBrain ScienceModeling the brain as a computerVision as a feedback loopAnalyzing MRI data with machine learning31... And hereAstronomyKD-trees help astronomers analyze very large multi-dimensional datasetsMathematicsFour-color theorem proofEngineeringBoeing 777 tested via computer simulation alone

32... And hereEconomicsAutomated mechanism design underlies electronic commerce (eg, ad placement)Social SciencesStatistical machine learning used for recommendation and reputation services

33... Here, tooMedicineRobotic surgeryScientific visualization (virtual colonoscopy)EntertainmentGames, moviesHuge computing farms to render moviesSportsRecord and analyzing performanceAnalyzing digital video of NBA games34Thank youJeannette Wing, CMU and NSFPat Phillips, Janesville Craig HS and MicrosoftCarolyn Sykora, ISTEMany friends at the CT Thought Leaders workshop in May, 2010 and the curriculum workshop in November, 201035ResourcesMy CT wiki:http://computationalthinking.pbworks.com/Lots of stuff collected, more to come

...email me about the WI CS and IT mailing list...Joe Kmochjoe@jkmoch.com36

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