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]


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 M. 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.[3]

Center for Computational Thinking[edit]

Computational thinking today is spearheaded by the Center for Computational Thinking at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. 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. [4]

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.[5] Its programs exercise instructional scaffolding methods via engineering process. There is also another online site named[6] 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 [7] starting from Grade 4 until they graduate to college.

Characteristics of Computational Thinking[edit]

Computational Thinking is a problem-solving process that includes the following characteristics:[8]

  • 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


  1. ^
  2. ^ Computational thinking
  3. ^ ACM
  4. ^ PROBE Experiments
  5. ^ "CMU Robotics Academy". Retrieved 30 Dec o2013. 
  6. ^ "LEGO Engineering". Retrieved 30 Dec 2013. 
  7. ^ "Roadmap for learning path". Retrieved 30 Dec 2013. 
  8. ^ 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..." 

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