Lesson 3: RealLife Algorithms: Plant a Seed
Unplugged  Algorithms
Overview
In this lesson, students will relate the concept of algorithms back to everyday, reallife activities by planting an actual seed. The goal here is to start building the skills to translate realworld situations to online scenarios and vice versa.
Purpose
In this lesson, students will learn that algorithms are everywhere in our daily lives. For example, it is possible to write an algorithm to plant a seed. Instead of giving vague or overgeneralized instructions, students will break down a large activity into smaller and more specific commands. From these commands, students must determine a special sequence of instructions that will allow their classmate to plant a seed.
Agenda
Warm Up (10 min)
Main Activity (20 min)
Wrap Up (10  20 min)
Assessment (15 min)
Extended Learning
Objectives
Students will be able to:
 Decompose large activities into a series of smaller events.
 Arrange sequential events into their logical order.
Preparation
 Watch the Plant a Seed  Teacher Video.
 Prepare supplies for planting seeds. You'll need seeds, dirt, and paper cups for each student or group.
 Print one RealLife Algorithms: Plant A Seed  Worksheet for each student.
 Print one RealLife Algorithms  Assessment for each student.
 Make sure each student has a Think Spot Journal  Reflection Journal.
Links
For the Teacher
 Plant a Seed  Teacher Video
 RealLife Algorithms: Plant A Seed  Worksheet
 RealLife Algorithms  Assessment
 Think Spot Journal  Reflection Journal
Vocabulary
 Algorithm  A precise sequence of instructions for processes that can be executed by a computer
Support
Report a Bug
Teaching Guide
Warm Up (10 min)
Vocabulary
This lesson has one vocabulary word that is important to review:
Algorithm  Say it with me: Algorithm
A list of steps that you can follow to finish a task
What We Do Daily

Ask your students what they did to get ready for school this morning.
 Write their answers on the board
 If possible, put numbers next to their responses to indicate the order that they happen
 If students give responses out of order, have them help you put them in some kind of logical order
 Point out places where order matters and places where it doesn't

Introduce students to the idea that it is possible to create algorithms for the things that we do everyday.
 Give them a couple of examples, such as making breakfast, tying shoes, and brushing teeth.

Let's try doing this with a new and fun activity, like planting a seed!
Main Activity (20 min)
RealLife Algorithms: Plant A Seed  Worksheet
Lesson Tip
You know your classroom best. As the teacher, decide if you should all do this together, or if students should work in pairs or small groups.
You can use algorithms to help describe things that people do every day. In this activity, we will create an algorithm to help each other plant a seed. Directions:
 Cut out the steps for planting a seed from RealLife Algorithms: Plant A Seed  Worksheet.
 Work together to choose the six correct steps from the nine total options.
 Glue the six correct steps, in order, onto a separate piece of paper.
 Trade the finished algorithm with another person or group and let them use it to plant their seed!
Lesson Tip
If deciding on the correct steps seems too difficult for your students, do that piece together as a class before you break up into teams.
Wrap Up (10  20 min)
Flash Chat: What did we learn?
 How many of you were able to follow your classmates' algorithms to plant your seeds?
 Did the exercise leave anything out?
 What would you have added to make the algorithm even better?
 What if the algorithm had been only one step: "Plant the seed"?
 Would it have been easier or harder?
 What if it were forty steps?
 What was your favorite part about that activity?
Journaling
Ask the students to go back to their desks to reflect individually on what they learned. Write a couple of the questions up above on a whiteboard. Ask the students to discuss these in their journal. Sample prompts include:
Journal Prompts:
 Draw the seed you planted today.
 Write the algorithm you used to plant the seed.
Assessment (15 min)
RealLife Algorithms  Assessment
 Hand out the RealLife Algorithms  Assessment and allow students to complete the activity independently after the instructions have been well explained.
 This should feel familiar, thanks to the previous activities.
Extended Learning
Use these activities to enhance student learning. They can be used as outside of class activities or other enrichment.
Go Figure
 Break the class up into teams.
 Have each team come up with several steps that they can think of to complete a task.
 Gather teams back together into one big group and have one team share their steps, without letting anyone know what the activity was that they had chosen.
 Allow the rest of the class to try to guess what activity the algorithm is for.
Student Instructions
Student Instructions
Student Instructions
Standards Alignment
View full course alignment
CSTA K12 Computer Science Standards
AP  Algorithms & Programming
 1AAP08  Model daily processes by creating and following algorithms (sets of stepbystep instructions) to complete tasks.
 1AAP09  Model the way programs store and manipulate data by using numbers or other symbols to represent information.
 1AAP11  Decompose (break down) the steps needed to solve a problem into a precise sequence of instructions.