What is computational thinking?

Computational thinking is a toolkit of thinking skills we can use when we’re tackling a problem, often, but not always with a computer. Part of children’s computing education in schools is developing their computational thinking skills, and the graphic you can see on screen is the Computational Thinker poster from Barefoot. You’ll see on the left hand side there are 6 separate concepts and 5 approaches to working on the right. To become really good problem solvers children need to develop and practise these just as a tennis player practises their serve or an artist practises new brush techniques.

This is so important, as these problem solving skills are at the heart of what helps to make a good computer scientist, so whenever Barefoot goes into schools to work with teachers, they leave copies of this poster to go on classroom walls and in computer rooms. What’s really interesting though is that computational thinking isn’t just limited to computer science, if you develop these problem solving skills you will be a better problem solver in maths when you’re trying to identify the rules for number sequences, or when you’re trying to spot patterns in science data, or when your summarising and decomposing stories and their plots into storyboards in English. In fact we can use them in a wide range of subjects, which just makes them even more valuable.