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Computational thinking, Minecraft and a 5 year old?

Monday, March 30, 2015

According to wikipedia, the primary characteristics of computational thinking are decomposition, data representation, generalization/abstraction, and algorithms.

Specifically, computational thinking is a problem solving framework where:

Analyzing and logically organizing data
Data modeling, data abstractions, and simulations
Formulating problems such that computers may assist
Identifying, testing, and implementing possible solutions
Automating solutions via algorithmic thinking
Generalizing and applying this process to other problems

...are used to approach problems.

How then, can we use minecraft to help a 5 year old (my daughter) start to understand these concepts? I think the best way is to build a trap for monsters.

Firstly, she would have to use cause-and-effect thinking. She would also need to break the trap into it's different parts. She would need to design a trap, and test it. In broad strokes, we will approach like this:

1. Define the problem (zombies, skeltons, and creepers)
2. Understand the component parts of a trap
3. With the component parts, she will design a trap
4. She will test the trap
5. She will generalize ways the trap can be used in other situations

Ok, I'll be honest, this isn't a good example of computational thinking. The classic decomposition, data representation, generalization/abstraction, and algorithms are not really present. But this would get us on a good road, wouldn't it? What do you think?


Bill MacKenty, Chief Zuccini

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