Computational Thinking – The New 21st Century Skill for K-12 Students

Came across a very good computational thinking piece from:

Computational thinking is the thought processes involved in formulating problems and their solutions so that the solutions are represented in a form that can effectively be carried out by an information-processing agent.

The article goes on to expand on this definition and offer examples.  She says, “Computational thinking overlaps with logical thinking and systems thinking. It includes algorithmic thinking and parallel thinking, which in turn engage other kinds of thought processes, such as compositional reasoning, pattern matching, procedure thinking, and recursive thinking.”  Jeannette pointed to a section of the paper on “Benefits of Computational Thinking” as being key:

Computational thinking enables you to bend computation to your needs. It is becoming the new literacy of the 21st century. Why should everyone learn a little computational thinking? Cuny, Snyder and I advocate these benefits [CunySnyderWing10]:

Computational thinking for everyone means being able to:

  • Understand which aspects of a problem are amenable to computation,
  • Evaluate the match between computational tools and techniques and a problem,
  • Understand the limitations and power of computational tools and techniques,
  • Apply or adapt a computational tool or technique to a new use,
  • Recognize an opportunity to use computation in a new way, and
  • Apply computational strategies such divide and conquer in any domain.

Computational thinking for scientists, engineers, and other professionals further means being able to:

  • Apply new computational methods to their problems,
  • Reformulate problems to be amenable to computational strategies,
  • Discover new science through analysis of large data,
  • Ask new questions that were not thought of or dared to ask because of scale, but which are easily addressed computationally, and
  • Explain problems and solutions in computational terms.

Read the rest here:


Discovery, Project Based, and Constructivist Learning in Immersive Environments for STEM Learning

I am obviously not unbiased when it comes to how I feel students learn STEM concepts (and my opinion that the seeds of STEM professionals are planted before puberty :) ).  I am likewise not unbiased when it comes to the platforms that I feel lend themselves best to these methods.  My bias towards discovery learning, the project based approach, and constructivism Im sure is relatively apparent from the past five years of this blog & its posts. Likewise my bias towards 3D immersive environments, games, and simulations as the most ideal platform other than the real thing (it tends to be easier to teach about the moon in a virtual moon simulation rather than shipping everyone there 😀 ).  Below are a few links that reveal and support many of my beliefs regarding STEM education.


Learning Theories

*** Discovery Learning –

*** Constructivist Learning –

*** Computational Thinking –

** Game Based Learning –


Tools to Support Those Theories

* Scratch –

* Edusim –

* Opensim –

* Scriptastic –







CopperCube – Fast & Simple HTML5 & WebGL Interactive 3D Web Content Creator

For those wanting something simple to get the ball rolling with HTML5 & WebGL 3D in your browser, take a peak at CopperCube. Its 3D content creator has a Windows & Mac version, and though its not free or open source its one of the simplest 3DWeb HTML5/WebGL creation tools Ive found.

Check them out here:
See some demos here:

The Greenbush Advanced Tech Studies


The Greenbush Advanced Technology Studies (GATS) Program is a STEM focused, web based online platform focusing on information technology and media skills of the future. The GATS program is intended to instruct both teachers and students how to use advanced technologies, particularly immersive education games, simulations, and 3D immersive media to tell a story, create a conceptual prototype, or even a real product they may have invented.

The Greenbush Advanced Technology Studies Program is a student directed and project based approach to the study and development of 21st century and STEM oriented skills and advanced technologies.

The students are in charge (with the assistance of their professional mentors) of selecting their project, establishing their project goals and timelines, and completing their projects prior to the end of their 9 week lab. Successful project completion earns the team a lab certification and the ability to enter their project into the end of the year Greenbush Labs Project Showcase. Project showcase winners earn a Ipod Touch or Android handheld device.

Skills of the Future
With the rapidly evolving technology landscape and traditionally lacking STEM skills of students, preparing students to be able to leverage emerging technologies and develop the necessary skills of the future is of vital importance. Some of the skills stressed in these labs include (as described in a study between the University of Phoenix and Institute for the Future):

• Novel and adaptive thinking – Proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based.

• Cross-cultural competency – Ability to operate in different cultural settings.

• Computational thinking – Ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning.

• New-media literacy – Ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communications.

• Transdisciplinarity – Literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines.

• Design mindset – Ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes.

• Cognitive load management – Ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques.

• Virtual collaboration – Ability to work productively, drive engagement and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team.

get the leaflet here