Computers and Algorithms
Becky and Ivy take us through today's activities. Computers are an integral part of our daily lives, especially at the moment. Even young children are good at using devices that contain computers. Today’s activities ask children to question how the computers around us work. We are exploring the idea that all computers follow instructions and that the instructions must be in order to get the result we want. In other words, computers follow algorithms. Computing is great fun and doesn’t have to involve actual computers! The activities today will help children to understand a fundamental concept of computing and enjoy themselves along the way!
Today we are thinking about algorithms - what a long word! An algorithm is a set of instructions that solve a problem.
Now, I said that this is also about computers. What’s the connection? Computers follow instructions!
That’s right! Lots of computers are made to make jobs easier and faster for us to do. But we have to give them instructions to do that. As long as the instructions are right, we will get the result we want.
In this activity, Ivy is going to show us what happens if the instructions are not in order.
You will need 6 items of clothing and the sheet attached (or you can make your own).
This activity introduces the idea that sometimes, we have to follow instructions in a specific order or we don’t always get the result we want. This is key in computing, where the code the computer follows must be correctly sequenced to get the intended outcome. Children will love the chaos that ensues when the order is random!
How good are you at giving instructions? Can you get someone to follow your instructions. In this activity, you make pictures out of shapes. Or you can instruct somebody else to make the picture! Try it both ways around. There are suggestions on the sheet for pictures you might make. Can you make something new?
This activity encourages children to use their descriptive vocabulary to get someone else to follow their instructions. They will soon learn that they need to be clear and specific to get the result they expect! When they switch roles, they are developing their listening and comprehension skills. There is also reinforcement of their knowledge of shapes.
Ivy loves rainbows and has loved seeing them on her walks around the village where she lives.Today she is going to show you the order of the colours in the rainbow - she’s even made up a saying to help you remember them! Practise putting the colours into order and then colour your own rainbow.
This activity teaches children the order of the colours in a rainbow whilst reinforcing the concept that sometimes steps need to be in order to get the correct result.
Could you control a robot? This activity gives you a chance to program a robot of your own in your own home. Just like any computer, this robot only follows the instructions you give it. There are some on the sheet, but you can add your own too. Perhaps you want to be the robot!
This activity is a close simulation of the algorithms followed by computers. It demonstrates clearly that computers are following instructions which, at the end of the day, come from the humans who write and run their programs. It’s a fun first step towards creating programs of their own.
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