Unit1

Unit 1 - Problem Solving and Computing

The Problem Solving and Computing unit is a highly interactive and collaborative introduction to the field of computer science, as framed within the broader pursuit of solving problems. Through a series of puzzles, challenges, and real world scenarios, students are introduced to a problem solving process that they will return to repeatedly throughout the course. Students then learn how computers input, output, store, and process information to help humans solve problems within the context of apps. The unit concludes with students designing an app that helps solve a problem of their choosing.

Modifications for Virtual and Socially-Distanced Classrooms

Are you teaching in a virtual setting or in a socially-distanced classroom?

Check out this document for ideas and resources to help you tailor common practices like Think Pair Share or Peer Feedback to your learning environment. We also have general modifications for Unit 1. For lesson-specific modifications, check out the Lesson Modifications section within Lesson Plans.

Chapter 1: The Problem Solving Process

Big Questions

  • What strategies and processes can I use to become a more effective problem solver?

Week 1

Lesson 1: Intro to Problem Solving

Unplugged

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Tech Setup
  • CSD Pre-Course Survey
  • Warm Up (5 min)
  • Activity (30 min)
  • Wrap Up (5 mins)

Question of the Day: What can help us to work together and solve problems as a team?

The class works in groups to design aluminum foil boats that will support as many pennies as possible. At the end of the lesson, groups reflect on their experiences with the activity and make connections to the types of problem solving they will be doing for the rest of the course.

Teacher Links: Exemplar | Slides | Student Links: Activity Guide

Lesson 2: The Problem Solving Process

Unplugged

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Warm Up (5 min)
  • Activity (30 min)
  • Wrap Up (15 min)
  • Extended Learning

Question of the Day: What are some common steps we can use to solve many different types of problems?

This lesson introduces the formal problem solving process that the class will use over the course of the year: Define - Prepare - Try - Reflect. The class relates these steps to the problem from the previous lesson, then to a problem they are good at solving, then to a problem they want to improve at solving. At the end of the lesson, the class collects a list of generally useful strategies for each step of the process to put on posters that will be used throughout the unit and year.

Teacher Links: Exemplar | Slides | Graphic Student Links: Video | Activity Guide

Lesson 3: Exploring Problem Solving

Unplugged

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Warm Up (5 min)
  • Activity (75 min)
  • Wrap Up (5 min)

Question of the Day: How can we apply the problem solving process to many different kinds of problems?

In this lesson, the class applies the problem solving process to three different problems: a word search, a seating arrangement for a birthday party, and planning a trip. The problems grow increasingly complex and poorly defined to highlight how the problem solving process is particularly helpful when tackling these types of problems.

Teacher Links: Slides | Exemplar Student Links: Activity Guide

Chapter Commentary

This chapter guides students to develop and adopt a more formal structured problem solving process by reflecting on problems they have problems they have encountered, both in the classroom and everyday life. By working through a diverse set of problems, such as logic puzzles, engineering challenges, and planning a trip, students learn to identify different classes of problems, decompose large problems, and develop their personal problem solving skills.


Chapter 2: Computers and Problem Solving

Big Questions

  • How do computers help people to solve problems?
  • How do people and computers approach problems differently?
  • What does a computer need from people in order to solve problems effectively?

Week 2

Lesson 4: What is a Computer?

Unplugged

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Warm Up (5 mins)
  • Activity (40 mins)
  • Wrap Up (5 mins)

Question of the Day: What is a computer?

In this lesson, the class develops a preliminary definition of a computer. After brainstorming the possible definitions for a computer, the class works in groups to sort pictures into “is a computer” or “is not a computer” categories on poster paper, and explain their motivations for choosing some of the most difficult categorizations. The teacher then introduces a definition of the computer and allows groups to revise their posters according to the new definition.

Teacher Links: Exemplar | Slides Student Links: Video | Activity Guide | Activity Guide

Lesson 5: Input and Output

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Warm Up (10 mins)
  • Activity (25 mins)
  • Wrap Up (5 mins)

Question of the Day: How do computers use input and output to get and give the information that they need to solve problems?

In this lesson, the class considers how computers get and give information to the user through inputs and outputs. After first considering what information they would need to solve a "thinking problem”, the class identifies the inputs and outputs to that process. Afterwards, they explore a series of apps and determine the inputs and outputs for each one.

Teacher Links: Exemplar | Slides Student Links: Activity Guide

Lesson 6: Processing

Unplugged

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Warm Up (10 min)
  • Activity (30 mins)
  • Wrap Up (10 min)

Question of the Day: What are the different ways computers can process information?

This lesson introduces four types of processing that the class will use throughout the course. Through a series of apps, the class explores how processing is used to turn input into output. In the end, the class brainstorms more types of app processing that would be useful.

Teacher Links: Exemplar | Slides Student Links: Activity Guide

Lesson 7: Storage

Unplugged

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Warm Up (5 min)
  • Activity (20 min)
  • Introducing the IOSP Model (20 min)
  • Wrap Up (5 min)

Question of the Day: Why is storage an important part of the computing process?

This lesson covers the last part of the chapter's model of computing: storage. The class interacts with several different apps, determining which information should be stored for later and why. The input-output-storage-processing model of computing is then presented in full, and the class reflects on how various apps use each of the components, and how the model impacts whether or not something should be considered a computer.

Teacher Links: Slides | Exemplar Student Links: Video | Activity Guide

Week 3

Lesson 8: Project - Propose an App

Unplugged | Project

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Warm Up (10 min)
  • Activity (150 min)
  • Wrap Up
  • Extended Learning
  • Post-Project Test

Question of the Day: How can the IOSP model help us to design an app that solves a problem?

To conclude the study of the problem solving process and the input/output/store/process model of a computer, the class proposes apps designed to solve real world problems. This project is completed across multiple days and culminates in a poster presentation where students highlight the features of their apps. The project is designed to be completed in pairs, though it can be completed individually.

Teacher Links: Slides | Project Guide Exemplar | Sample Marked Rubrics Student Links: Project Guide | Rubric | Peer Review | Reflection

Chapter Commentary

This chapter presents computers as machines that solve information problems. Students begin by building a common definition for a computer that focuses on functionality instead of specific hardware. They then explore the ways that computers approach problems. For their final project, students propose an app that could be used to solve a problem of their choosing.


Chapter 3: The Problem Solving Process - Alternate Lessons

Week 4

Lesson 9: Intro to Problem Solving - Newspaper Table (Alternate Lesson 1)

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Tech Setup
  • CSD Pre-Course Survey
  • Warm Up (5 min)
  • Activity (30 min)
  • Wrap Up (5 mins)

Question of the Day: What can help us to work together and solve problems as a team?

The class works in groups to design newspaper tables that will support as many books as possible. At the end of the lesson, groups reflect on their experiences with the activity and make connections to the types of problem solving they will be doing for the rest of the course.

Teacher Links: Exemplar | Slides | Student Links: Activity Guide

Lesson 10: Intro to Problem Solving - Spaghetti Bridge (Alternate Lesson 1)

Unplugged

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Tech Setup
  • CSD Pre-Course Survey
  • Warm Up (5 min)
  • Activity (30 min)
  • Wrap Up (5 min)

Question of the Day: What can help us to work together and solve problems as a team?

The class works in groups to design spaghetti bridges that will support as many books as possible. At the end of the lesson, groups reflect on their experiences with the activity and make connections to the types of problem solving they will be doing for the rest of the course.

Teacher Links: Exemplar | Slides | Student Links:

Lesson 11: Intro to Problem Solving - Paper Tower (Alternate Lesson 1)

Unplugged

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Tech Setup
  • CSD Pre-Course Survey
  • Warm Up (5 min)
  • Activity (30 min)
  • Wrap Up (5 min)

Question of the Day: What can help us to work together and solve problems as a team?

The class works in groups to design paper towers that will be as tall as possible. At the end of the lesson groups reflect on their experiences with the activity and make connections to the types of problem solving they will be doing for the rest of the course.

Teacher Links: Exemplar | Slides | Student Links: Activity Guide

Lesson 12: Exploring Problem Solving - Animals Theme (Alternate Lesson 3)

Unplugged

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Warm Up (5 min)
  • Activity (75 min)
  • Wrap Up

Question of the Day: How can we apply the problem solving process to many different kinds of problems?

In this lesson, the class applies the problem solving process to three different problems: a tangram puzzle, choosing a pet according to criteria, and planning a pet adoption event. The problems grow increasingly complex and poorly defined to highlight how the problem solving process is particularly helpful when tackling these types of problems.

Teacher Links: Exemplar | Slides Student Links: Tangrams | Activity Guide

Lesson 13: Exploring Problem Solving - Games Theme (Alternate Lesson 3)

Unplugged

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Warm Up (5 min)
  • Activity (75 min)
  • Wrap Up (20 min)

Question of the Day: How can we apply the problem solving process to many different kinds of problems?

In this lesson, the class applies the problem solving process to three different problems: a maze, a logic puzzle, and planning field day activity. The problems grow increasingly complex and poorly defined to highlight how the problem solving process is particularly helpful when tackling these types of problems.

Teacher Links: Exemplar | Slides Student Links: Activity Guide

Chapter Commentary

This chapter provides alternate lessons for this unit.