Computer Science Activities

Divide and Conquer

This activity shows hoe the application of computer science can make a seemingly intractable problem relatively simple. It demonstrates how a box containing an extraneous pair of dirty socks can be found among 1024 boxes in 10 steps without opening a single box. The accompanying video is cute and quickly and clearly explains how the activity works without having to read a lot of text.

Source: Computer Science Unplugged. Find video and full activity here.

Harold the Robot

Children will practice giving a "robot" (another child or an adult) directions to try to build a tower of blocks. The "robot" must follow the directions exactly and may refuse a task that is unclear or too complicated. After, a discussion about direction giving and programming languages, both of computers and robots, can follow.

Source: Computer Science Unplugged. See full activity here.

Minimal Spanning Trees

​Using a simulated city that has flooding problems after rainstorms, children will use paver stones to find the most efficient way to link all the town buildings (use the least number of pavers). This in turn, can prompt discussion about computer/telephone networking and optimizing those networks using the most direct connections. 

Source: Computer Science Unplugged. See full activity here

Routing and Deadlock: The Orange Game

This activity simulates bottlenecks that can develop in computer and telephone data transmission. The activity works best with 5 or more children in a circle. Each child gets a letter nametag. Within the circle, there are two tennis balls that are labeled with their letter. Each child can only hold one ball in each hand and pass to their immediate neighbor. They must try to pass the balls around the circle until everyone has their labeled tennis balls. However, if one person immediately holds their letters, they may create a bottleneck for other children. 

Source: Computer Science Unplugged. See full activity here

Sharing Secrets: Information Hiding

A simple demonstration calculating the average age of a group of 3-5 children without revealing the age of any given child can be used to illustrate possible security measures and ways that data might be encoded to protect personal information on the internet. 

Source: Computer Science Unplugged. See full activity here