Q1 What is Computational Thinking?

21. Computational Thinking


Joe - This computation thinking Thing sure has a lot of big words!

Lila - I know!

Joe - Not only do we have to learn the meaning of the five vocabulary words, but we have to be able to spell them correctly!

Lila - Hey! I just thought of something. We can use computational thinking to help learn the words and spell them correctly. 

Joe - Great! What do we have to do then?

Lila - We need to take the five words in the Vocabulary and create a list of tasks on how we are going to learn the words. 

Joe - Well that is easy! You go look up the definitions, look for patterns in the spelling, decide what we don't need to do and when you are done you can quiz me! 

Lila - Excuse me! We are in this together!


Computational thinking assists students to break down problems into smaller parts so that it is easier to understand and solve them. In all disciplines, students have problems to solve.

Learning to use decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction and algorithm design will help students reach success in all projects. Students can use computational thinking while working on a school project to coding and programming a game.

Computational Thinking by Jo Cull

Source: Jo Culf, CSER MOOC

I Can Statement

  • define computational thinking


Computational Thinker: "Students that develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions". (ISTE Standard 5. for Students)

Decomposition: Decomposition is breaking the problem into smaller parts.

Pattern Recognition: Pattern recognition involves finding the similarities or patterns among small, decomposed problems that can help us solve more complex problems more efficiently.

Abstraction: Abstraction is filtering out the data you need and what you don’t need. A computer programmer hides all but the relevant data about an object in order to reduce complexity and increase efficiency.

Algorithm: An algorithm is a detailed step-by-step instruction set or formula for solving a problem or completing a task.


In this first Quest, you are learning about the big picture of computational thinking. In the next four Quests, you will dive deeper into each of the four steps of computational thinking.

  1. Watch this video Computational Thinking by Jules together as a class.
  2. Read the definitions by Jules.
  3. Before you begin the next four Quests, you will need to choose a complex problem to work on as you go through the Quests.
    • It could be as simple as giving directions to a location, creating a new cookie recipe or programming and creating a new computer game/application.
    • You and your teacher will choose the problems/projects to work on.
  4. You will want to read through this example to assist you in your thinking:
  5. Make a copy of the Computational Thinking planning document to plan and work through the problem/project.
  6. Using the Computational Thinking planning document, identify the problem you will be working on using computational thinking.
  7. Share the document with your teacher.

Completing this Quest

In order to complete this Quest, you learned about computational thinking, chose a complex problem or project to work on, created a copy of the computational thinking planning document and shared it with your teacher.

Additional Resources

What is Computational Thinking and Why Care? Computational Thinking

Check off this Quest on the 21t4s roadmap 

I have completed this Quest and I am ready to learn about Quest 2

ISTE and Common Core Standards

ISTE Standards•S

3. Knowledge Constructor
d. Students build knowledge by active exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories and pursuing answers and solutions.

4. Innovative Designer
a. Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.

5. Computational Thinker
a. Students formulate problem definitions suited for technology-assisted methods such as data analysis, abstract models and algorithmic thinking in exploring and finding solutions.
b. Students collect data or identify relevant data sets, use digital tools to analyze them, and represent data in various ways to facilitate problem-solving and decision-making.

Common Core Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research