Computational thinking

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Computational Thinking (CT) is a problem solving method that uses computer science techniques. The term computational thinking was first used by Seymour Papert in 1996.[1] Computational thinking can be used to algorithmically solve complicated problems of scale, and is often used to realize large improvements in efficiency.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10]


The phrase computational thinking was brought to the forefront of the computer science community as a result of an ACM Communications article on the subject by Jeannette Wing. The article suggested that thinking computationally was a fundamental skill for everyone, not just computer scientists, and argued for the importance of integrating computational ideas into other disciplines.[11]

Characteristics of Computational Thinking[edit]

Computational Thinking is a problem-solving process that includes the following characteristics:[12]

  • Analyzing and logically organizing data
  • Data modeling, data abstractions, and simulations
  • Formulating problems such that computers may assist
  • Identifying, testing, and implementing possible solutions
  • Automating solutions via algorithmic thinking
  • Generalizing and applying this process to other problems

Center for Computational Thinking[edit]

Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh has a Center for Computational Thinking. The Center's major activity is conducting PROBEs or PROBlem-oriented Explorations. These PROBEs are experiments that apply novel computing concepts to problems to show the value of computational thinking. A PROBE experiment is generally a collaboration between a computer scientist and an expert in the field to be studied. The experiment typically runs for a year. In general, a PROBE will seek to find a solution for a broadly applicable problem and avoid narrowly focused issues. Some examples of PROBE experiments are optimal kidney transplant logistics and how to create drugs that do not breed drug resistant viruses. [13]

Computational Thinking (CT) for Pre-College levels[edit]

While Computational Thinking is mostly practiced in college level education, it has gained its ground in K-12 levels in STEM education. You may find a small handful of online institutions which provides curriculum, and other related resources to build and strengthen pre-college students with Computational Thinking, Analysis and Problems Solving. One prominent one is the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy. It offers a rich array of training sessions for both pre-college students, as well as teachers. CMU's programs exercise instructional scaffolding methods via engineering process. There is also another online site named[14] offering similar resources.

As far as a physical facility, in Central New Jersey, there is a small institution, named Storming Robots, offers technology programs to Grade 4 to 12 with focus on Algorithmic and Computational Thinking via robotics projects throughout the school year. Students may follow its road map [15] starting from Grade 4 until they graduate to college.


  1. ^ Papert, Seymour (1996). "An exploration in the space of mathematics educations". International Journal of Computers for Mathematical Learning 1. doi:10.1007/BF00191473. 
  2. ^ Repenning, A.; Webb, D.; Ioannidou, A. (2010). "Scalable game design and the development of a checklist for getting computational thinking into public schools". Proceedings of the 41st ACM technical symposium on Computer science education - SIGCSE '10. p. 265. doi:10.1145/1734263.1734357. ISBN 9781450300063. 
  3. ^ Guzdial, Mark (2008). "Education: Paving the way for computational thinking". Communications of the ACM 51 (8): 25. doi:10.1145/1378704.1378713. 
  4. ^ Wing, J. M. (2008). "Computational thinking and thinking about computing". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 366 (1881): 3717. Bibcode:2008RSPTA.366.3717W. doi:10.1098/rsta.2008.0118. 
  5. ^ Center for Computational thinking at Carnegie Mellon
  6. ^ Exploring Computational Thinking,
  7. ^ Conrad Wolfram: Teaching kids real math with computers on YouTube, TED talk 2010-11-15
  8. ^ What is Computational Thinking? CS4FN at CS4FN
  9. ^ The Sacramento Regional CPATH Team has created a Think CT website with information on CT developed by this NSF-funded project.
  10. ^ A short introduction to Computational Thinking by the Open University
  11. ^ Wing, Jeanette M. (2006). "Computational thinking". Communications of the ACM 49 (3): 33. doi:10.1145/1118178.1118215. 
  12. ^ Stephenson, Chris; Valerie Barr (May 2011). "Defining Computational Thinking for K-12". CSTA Voice 7 (2): 3–4. ISSN 1555-2128. CT is a problem solving process... 
  13. ^ PROBE Experiments
  14. ^ "LEGO Engineering". Retrieved 30 Dec 2013. 
  15. ^ "Roadmap for learning path". Retrieved 30 Dec 2013. 

External links[edit]