We live in a computer-driven or more simplistically, gadget-driven world. Computers help us in solving problems. But before they can do that, the problem itself and the way it can be solved needs to be understood by us. This is where computational thinking (CT) comes in.
However CT is not necessarily limited to information and communication technologies. This sort of thinking process where first one breaks down a complex problem into smaller manageable parts (Decomposition), looks at each part closely and tries to figure out how such similar problems have been dealt with in the past (Pattern recognition), focusing only on the relevant while ignoring the irrelevant (Abstraction), and finally formulating simple rules of logic to solve each of the smaller problems (Algorithms) is known as computational thinking.
The International Institute of Information Technology at Hyderabad (IIITH) strongly believes that such a thinking process should be part of early childhood curriculum. Towards that end, as part of its School Outreach programme, aptly named Student Technology Education Programme or STEP, each Summer, the institute organizes a series of non-residential certification courses for students in Grades 7-10.
Everyday Everywhere CT
Prof. Soma Paul who is currently in charge of the School Outreach programme says, “ A lot of people are put off when we say Computers or Computational Thinking. The reality is that we need this sort of logical thinking process for our daily activities, whether it is maths, and science, or arts and humanities, or even cooking!” Therefore you can expect a myriad of fun and challenging activities for school children from visits to the Robotics Research Centre lab on campus, to recognising patterns in sculpture and painting, to decomposing elements of a recipe in culinary skills. Other activities planned include a visit to the organic farm housed on-campus, a Sports Day and a Talent Show which will culminate the programme. The institute has tied up with Sciensation, a Hyderabad-based outfit that specialises in after-school initiatives that focus on learning by questioning and problem-solving in a unique manner. Plans are also afoot to get an artist from Shantiniketan on board to facilitate the Art aspects of the programme. The success of this School Outreach activity is visible not the least in that, some of the former students have performed very well in and qualified for the National Olympiads.
Admission to the course is open to any student who meets the age criteria on a First-Come-First-Serve basis. According to Prof. Soma, the only prerequisite is a predilection towards analytical thinking or at least a desire to develop such a thought process.
For middle school students (Grade 7-8), the course (Computational Thinking and Applications, CTA) will be introductory in nature and deal with applications of CT. The course material has been developed based on the curriculum of Code.org.
For high school students (Grade 9-10), the Computational Thinking and Problem Solving (CTPS) course is exploratory in nature, dealing with various aspects of how CT can help in problem solving.
All students will receive a certificate at the end of the course.
Classes start from 7 May -1 June 2018.
For more information on the admission process and requirements, see https://www.iiit.ac.in/step/