5 tips to introduce Algorithms to Children

How to Explain Algorithms to Kids
December 12, 2018
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The term “Algorithm” may seem pretty irrelevant to children’seducation (especially when they are in elementary schools) but it does holdhuge importance in the field of programming. Coding has become the basictechnological literacy. To write a flawless code, you should know how to write an algorithm first.

Algorithms are present all around us, orchestrating everything from
technology used by us to the everyday decisions made by us. It’s necessary for
your children to have a clear idea of algorithmic concepts before they enter
the world of programming. Let’s go through a set of stepwise tips to explain
algorithms to children.

Explain the basic Definition of
“Algorithm” to children

This can be deemed the first step to introduce coding to children.
Your children should know the definition of “algorithm” before they start
writing one.

An algorithm can be said to be a set of detailed step-wise
instructions to solve a specific problem or complete a specific task.

Encourage your children to think
about Algorithms in a general sense

It’s necessary for children to think about algorithms in a general
sense to get a better understanding of the subject. Algorithms are present
everywhere. A simple recipe to make a particular food-item can be said to be a
type of algorithm. A simple example of an algorithm based on your children’s
weekday morning routine is provided below for an easy reference.

  1. Start
  2. Get up
  3. Shower
  4. Get dressed
  5. Eat breakfast
  6. If weather is
    “sunny”

           
Walk to the school

   
else

           
Go to the school with parents

 
     7. Stop

You
see that this is an algorithm in the general sense depicting your children’s weekday
morning routine.

Introduce the basic Algorithms used
in Computer Programming to children

After
your children get accustomed to the basic algorithmic concepts in the general
sense, it’s necessary that they start thinking of implementing algorithms in computer
programming. But remember that this is just the start and hence, their
algorithms should be based on simple problems. Introduce them to such simple
problems. A simple example can be seen below.

This
is an algorithm that finds the sum of three numbers taken as user input.

  1. Start
  2. Declare the 3
    variables x, y, z, sum /*”sum” is a variable where the summation of the 3
    numbers is stored. “x”, “y” and “z” are the variables that store the
    values taken as user-input*/
  3. Read the 3
    user-input values x, y, z
  4. Perform the
    addition of the 3 values taken as user input and store them in sum.

           
sum= x+y+z

 
    5. Display sum

 
    6. Stop

Make your children aware of the
Techniques involved in writing good Algorithms

There
are certain techniques implemented for writing good algorithms. Introduce the
techniques to your children. These techniques are mentioned below.

  • The inputs as well as outputs of an
    algorithm need to be defined specifically. The programmer needs to keep
    that in mind while writing an algorithm and do accordingly. Ask your
    children to implement the same technique in their writing.
  • Urge your children to write each
    step of an algorithm in a clear as well as in an unambiguous manner.
  • An algorithm should definitely be
    the most effective and best way among many ways to get the solution of a
    specific problem. Advise your children to keep that in mind while writing
    an algorithm.
  • An algorithm should not have any
    computer code. It should always be written in a manner which can be
    implemented in many similar coding languages. Advise your children to keep
    that idea in their minds and implement the same in their writing.

Urge your children to write their
very own Algorithms

It’s necessary that your children start creating their very own
algorithms after they get introduced to the basics of the subject. The
objective can be very simple. It can be a recipe to cook a meal or it can be
one based on mathematical operations as to determine the largest
of 3 numbers
. Instruct your children to be
specific with their instructions as much as possible.

Algorithmic thinking is hugely beneficial in STEM education. It’s
not only enclosed within the boundaries of computer science but also finds
application in subjects like Math (e.g. step-by-step procedures to solve a
specific problem), Science (e.g. step-by-step procedures to get the result of
an experiment) etc. Algorithmic thinking enables children to come to quick
solutions in a step-by-step manner which is immensely beneficial for their
higher education when they face advanced problems related to mathematics,
science, programming etc.

It’s necessary for children to indulge in practices related to
algorithms to strengthen and develop algorithmic thinking abilities.
Algorithmic thinking can be the stepping stone to a fruitful career in STEM as
well as in other educational fields.

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