Computers and Algorithms

Enduring Understanding

Algorithms and programming control all computing systems, empowering people to communicate with the world in new ways and solve compelling problems. Algorithms are translated into programs, or code, to provide instructions for computing devices. Algorithms are commonly implemented using a precise language that computers can interpret. Computers follow precise sequences of instructions that automate tasks literally. Program execution can also be non sequential by repeating patterns of instructions and using events to initiate instructions.


Essential Questions

  • What are loops and events in real world?
  • How does a computer trigger an action?
  • What are the strategies of fixing problems and debugging?

Core Concepts:

  • Algorithms and Programming

CSTA Standards

1A-AP-09 - Model the way programs store and manipulate data by using numbers or other symbols to represent information.
Information in the real world can be represented in computer programs. Students could use thumbs up/down as representations of yes/no, use arrows when writing algorithms to represent direction, or encode and decode words using numbers, pictographs, or other symbols to represent letters or words.
1A-AP-10 - Develop programs with sequences and simple loops, to express ideas or address a problem.
Programming is used as a tool to create products that reflect a wide range of interests. Control structures specify the order in which instructions are executed within a program. Sequences are the order of instructions in a program. For example, if dialogue is not sequenced correctly when programming a simple animated story, the story will not make sense. If the commands to program a robot are not in the correct order, the robot will not complete the task desired. Loops allow for the repetition of a sequence of code multiple times. For example, in a program to show the life cycle of a butterfly, a loop could be combined with move commands to allow continual but controlled movement of the character.
1A-AP-11 - Decompose (break down) the steps needed to solve a problem into a precise sequence of instructions.
Decomposition is the act of breaking down tasks into simpler tasks. Students could break down the steps needed to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, to brush their teeth, to draw a shape, to move a character across the screen, or to solve a level of a coding app.
1A-AP-14 - Debug (identify and fix) errors in an algorithm or program that includes sequences and simple loops.
Algorithms or programs may not always work correctly. Students should be able to use various strategies, such as changing the sequence of the steps, following the algorithm in a step-by-step manner, or trial and error to fix problems in algorithms and programs.

Related Resources and Toolkits


Physical Computing Extensions

  • BeeBot
  • KIBO
  • Puzzlets
  • Dash and Dot
  • Osmo
  • Ozobot

Programming Platforms

  • Scratch Jr.
  • CodeMonkey
  • Kodable
  • CodeSpark (The Foos)
  • Tynker

Sample Lessons

Lesson 1: Steve and The big project
Lesson 2: My loopy Robotics Friends Jr.
Lesson 3: Move it, Move it
Lesson 4 Loops with Scrat
Lesson 5 Loops with Laurel
Lesson 6 Drawing Gardens with Loops
Lesson 7 The Big Event Jr. (Hello Ruby- Big Events)
Lesson 8 A Royal Battle with Events

View Samples


Sources & Attribution

Adapted primarily from Creative Commons licensed resources developed by