Lesson Plan

Awesome Algorithms

Discover the world of algorithms and explore their many functions in this great Computational Thinking Lesson for the Grade 6-7 BC ADST Curriculum
Andrew M.
Foundation/nonprofit member
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My Grades K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects Science
Objectives

Students will be able to...

  • Understand what an algorithm is used for in computer science
  • Provide real-world examples of algorithms from daily life
  • Create an algorithm to help solve a real world problem
Subjects
Science
Grades 6 - 7
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 HOOK: Real-Life Algorithms: Paper Airplanes

Introduce students to the concept of Algorithms by explaining that they are a set of instructions used by a computer to complete certain tasks, like a recipe used to bake a cake.

Inform students that today they are going to be exploring awesome algorithms, and that we will begin by looking at where algorithms appear in real life.

Group students into teams of 4, using a tool such a GroupMaker, and provide each group with a worksheet found here (https://code.org/curriculum/course2/2/Activity2-RealLifeAlgorithms.pdf) along with the following items:

  • scissors,
  • glue and
  • a few sheets of white paper. 

Have students follow the directions from the code.org website found under student instructions.

Since it will become a busy classroom once students get to the end and start creating their own planes, it is probably a good idea to setup a "Flight Zone" before this section begins.

Student Instructions

In this activity you are going to be exploring the idea of algorithms by looking at how they can be applied to paper airplane making:

Directions:

  • Cut out the steps for making a paper airplane provided worksheet.
  • Work together to choose the six correct steps from the nine total options.
  • Glue the six correct steps, in order, onto a separate piece of paper.
  • Trade the finished algorithm with another group and let them use it to make their plane!

2 DIRECT INSTRUCTION: EDpuzzle Algorithms

Now that students have a bit of an idea about what an algorithm is in real life, it's time to start looking a bit more computationally.

Head over to YouTube and check out the TED-Ed Talk "What's an algorithm? - David J. Malan". Once you have had a chance to check out the video, make your way to EDpuzzle, create a free account and find the same video using their internal search tool. Once you have found it, choose a few points in the video to create questions that will gauge student understanding of what is being discussed.

A great example would be around the 1:30 mark and ask students "What else could N be called?" (the answer is anything).

If you are in a 1-to-1 classroom, or have access to laptops in your classroom, you can have the class complete these assignments in a group or individually and otherwise you can complete this as a group on the main projector.

At the end of the session you can test the class by replicating the counting algorithm from the video in your classroom!

Student Instructions

It's time to learn a bit more about algorithms and even to start talking about how math plays a part!

Check out this video on EDpuzzle then answer the questions as they are presented. At the end of the video we will put our knowledge for the test by bringing the video to life.

3 GUIDED PRACTICE: Peanut Butter Jelly Time

Now that we have a good idea of what an algorithm is and how it works, it's time to put our knowledge into practice through a little activity called Peanut Butter Jelly Time.

For this activity you will need the following supplies:

  • Peanut Butter (nut-free is preferred)
  • Jelly
  • Loaf of Bread
  • Butter Knife
  • Plate

The goal of this activity will be for students to create their own algorithm for you to make a peanut butter sandwich.

Using GroupMaker break students into new groups then provide each group with a few pieces of paper and pencils (to write down their algorithms) then explain the challenge.

Tell students that they will have a set amount of time to create their set of instructions for you to make the sandwich and then will get to test and see if it works.

If groups are successful, give them an added challenge of making the algorithm more efficient and/or making an algorithm that will make more sandwiches using the name number of lines of code.

For a final extension, have students think back to the N+1 equation from the EDpuzzle video, and attempt to convert their instructions to an equation.

Student Instructions

Alright class its Peanut Butter Jelly time!

In your groups you will have the task of creating an awesome algorithm for your teacher to make a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich using the following items:

  • Peanut Butter (nut-free is preferred)
  • Jelly
  • Loaf of Bread
  • Butter Knife
  • Plate

Write down your instructions on a sheet of paper, and once you think you have an algorithm that will work, let your teacher know and they will try it out. Not successful? Time to debug your code and figure out where things went wrong.

If you have been successful with one sandwich, why not try an algorithm with even less lines of code? One to make more sandwiches?

On your mark... get set ... Sandwich!

4 WRAP-UP: Share Your Awesome Algorithm

Flipgrid
Free to Try, Paid

It's time for some awesome algorithmic assessment!

For this assessment we are going to use Flipgrid to have students share what they learned in class today and to demonstrate some extended learning.

Have students follow the instructions in the next section and be sure to follow-up if there seems to be any misunderstanding

Student Instructions

Time to share what you learned today and think about what other problems could be solved with algorithms!

Log into Flipgrid using the code provided by your teacher and share:

  • one thing that you learned in the lesson today and
  • one real-world problem that could be solved with algorithms.

If you aren't sure of a problem, just think about things that sometimes need instructions to be able to complete a task.