by Annie Murphy Paul
"It’s a grounding in computational thinking — not a facility with the latest feature or product — that fosters future success in the field, whether students go on to become engineers or inventors or entrepreneurs.
That’s a powerful rationale for teaching computational thinking to our young people. But there’s a problem. In conventional computer science instruction, these principles are only accessible to those who learn how to program. This poses a big hurdle, especially for younger students. Enter Computer Science Unplugged, which has been developed at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand over the past two decades.
"Professors Tim Bell, Mike Fellows and Ian H. Witten, have figured out how to teach the concepts of computer science through games, puzzles and magic tricks. Taking the computer out of the picture — for the time being — allows children as young as five to learn about the basic ideas that undergird computer science. Youngsters can tackle topics as apparently abstruse as algorithms, binary numbers, Boolean circuits, and cryptographic protocols. The activities offered by Computer Science Unplugged are aimed at students in kindergarten through seventh grade, though they have been used by students in high school and even college."