Unplugging Computer Science to Spark Curiosity For Root Concepts

Arguments for computer science education in public schools focus on the importance of learning computational thinking and its increasing importance in a world dominated by computers. Proponents make the case that even students who don't end up choosing computer science as a career benefit from learning to break down problems into smaller, more manageable pieces. And as computers become ubiquitous, they argue, all students should have a basic knowledge of why and how they work. In her Hechinger Report article, Annie Murphy Paul writes about a free program developed in New Zealand that teaches the underlying concepts of computer science without any computers at all. Paul writes:

"Whatever students’ ages or prior knowledge, Computer Science Unplugged makes the most of its liberation from the screen and the keyboard. It incorporates physical activity, asking students to move and gesture, run and hunt, in an effort to embody a computer’s operation. It employs real-life objects — crayons, string, and chalk, among other common items — to convey abstract entities like data and memory. And it nurtures social interaction, among students and between students and their teachers. Teachers are encouraged to allow children to discover answers for themselves while still offering plenty of guidance and feedback."