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Computational Thinking in Action activities

Each resource was designed to develop team work; critical and creative thinking; problem solving; and computational thinking skills.

All activities come with computational thinking definitions, a Thinking about Computational Thinking worksheet, the activity and an extension activity. The Thinking about Computational Thinking worksheet can be filled in after the activity is completed, used as a discussion prompt, or a framework to build an extension activity or project.

Computational thinking definitions  [pdf · 1mb]

Metacognition activity  [pdf · 1mb]

Thinking about Computational Thinking  [pdf · 1mb]

These resources were developed for students to use as a reflection prompt after completing any Computational Thinking in Action activity. Thinking about Computational Thinking is to be used in conjunction with the computational thinking definitions to enable students to identify and compare key thinking skills. Students can then use the prompt to discuss with classmates about other approaches to problem solving. The final prompts can be used as guiding questions if extension activities are completed.

Online and home learning adjustments

For each of the published resources below, we have developed some suggested modifications to facilitate teaching and learning in a range of environments.


Rubbish robots

Computational Thinking in Action: Rubbish robots activity  [pdf · 1mb]

Write a single algorithm that can move three robots at the same time to pick up the maximum amount of rubbish. Compare results with classmates.

Requires: grid paper, counters and hole punch chads (no printing required).

Curriculum links

Digital Technologies: Define simple problems, and describe and follow a sequence of steps and decisions (algorithms) needed to solve them (ACTDIP010).

Implement simple digital solutions as visual programs with algorithms involving branching (decisions) and user input (ACTDIP011). Plan, create and communicate ideas and information independently and with others, applying agreed ethical and social protocols (ACTDIP013) – if completed in an online collaborative environment.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability: Create and modify simple digital solutions, creative outputs or data representation/ transformation for particular purposes.

Critical and creative thinking capability: Transfer and apply information in one setting to enrich another. Identify and apply appropriate reasoning and thinking strategies for particular outcomes. Reflect on, explain and check the processes used to come to conclusions. Identify pertinent information in an investigation and separate into smaller parts or ideas. Identify and apply appropriate reasoning and thinking strategies for particular outcomes. Explain and justify ideas and outcomes.

Online learning adjustments: Students work in groups at home. Teacher/instructor takes a picture of the sprinkled chads and students compare algorithms in their online learning environments.


Smart cities

Computational Thinking in Action: Smart cities activity  [pdf · 1mb]

Place the mobile towers to get the best coverage on your island map, but also cost the least amount of money to build.

Requires:a printed map and tokens/counters/coins (no printing required).

Curriculum links

Digital Technologies: Define simple problems, and describe and follow a sequence of steps and decisions (algorithms) needed to solve them (ACTDIP010). Explain how student solutions and existing information systems meet common personal, school or community needs (ACTDIP012). Plan, create and communicate ideas and information independently and with others, applying agreed ethical and social protocols (ACTDIP013) – if completed in an online collaborative environment.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability: Create and modify simple digital solutions, creative outputs or data representation/ transformation for particular purposes.

Critical and creative thinking capability: Transfer and apply information in one setting to enrich another. Identify and apply appropriate reasoning and thinking strategies for particular outcomes. Reflect on, explain and check the processes used to come to conclusions. Identify pertinent information in an investigation and separate into smaller parts or ideas. Identify and apply appropriate reasoning and thinking strategies for particular outcomes. Explain and justify ideas and outcomes.

Online learning adjustments: Students work in groups at home. Teacher/instructor takes a picture of the placed people and students compare tower placement and costs in their online learning environments.


Touch screens

Computational Thinking in Action: Michael Seo touch screen activity  [pdf · 1mb]

Assess materials for potential to act as a touch screen, similar to the screen on a tablet. Describe the properties of the materials.

Requires: polystyrene or other similar material (no printing required).

Curriculum links

Digital Technologies: Define simple problems, and describe and follow a sequence of steps and decisions (algorithms) needed to solve them (ACTDIP010). Plan, create and communicate ideas and information independently and with others, applying agreed ethical and social protocols (ACTDIP013) – if completed in an online collaborative environment. Evaluate how student solutions and existing information systems meet needs, are innovative, and take account of future risks and sustainability (ACTDIP031).

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability: Create and modify simple digital solutions, creative outputs or data representation/ transformation for particular purposes. Assess the suitability of data or information using appropriate criteria. Design and modify simple digital solutions, or multimodal creative outputs or data transformations for particular audiences and purposes following recognised conventions.

Critical and creative thinking capability: Transfer and apply information in one setting to enrich another. Identify and apply appropriate reasoning and thinking strategies for particular outcomes. Reflect on, explain and check the processes used to come to conclusions. Identify pertinent information in an investigation and separate into smaller parts or ideas. Identify and apply appropriate reasoning and thinking strategies for particular outcomes. Explain and justify ideas and outcomes. Apply knowledge gained from one context to another unrelated context and identify new meaning. Justify reasons for decisions when transferring information to similar and different contexts.Identify and clarify relevant information and prioritise ideas assess assumptions in their thinking and invite alternative opinions. Evaluate and justify the reasons behind choosing a particular problem solving strategy. Identify gaps in reasoning and missing elements in information. Explain intentions and justify ideas, methods and courses of action, and account for expected and unexpected outcomes against criteria they have identified.


Vertical harvesting

Computational Thinking in Action: Vertical harvesting activity  [pdf · 1mb]

Students explore vertical harvesting by writing a planting schedule for a mechanical garden bed in a robotic garden to try and grow the highest yield of produce in 1 day (24 hours).

Requires: Minimal equipment, no online modification needed (no printing required).

Extension: Explore and develop AI or robotic gardening solutions.

Curriculum links

Digital Technologies: Define simple problems, and describe and follow a sequence of steps and decisions (algorithms) needed to solve them (ACTDIP010). Design, modify and follow simple algorithms involving sequences of steps, branching, and iteration (repetition) (ACTDIP019). Plan, create and communicate ideas and information, including collaboratively online, applying agreed ethical, social and technical protocols (ACTDIP022).

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability: Independently or collaboratively create and modify digital solutions, creative outputs or data representation/ transformation for particular audiences and purposes.

Critical and creative thinking capability: Apply knowledge gained from one context to another unrelated context and identify new meaning. Identify and clarify relevant information and prioritise ideas. Reflect on, explain and check the processes used to come to conclusions. Identify and justify the thinking behind choices they have made.Assess whether there is adequate reasoning and evidence to justify a claim, conclusion or outcome. Evaluate the effectiveness of ideas, products, performances, methods and courses of action against given criteria.


Secure network

Computational Thinking in Action: Secure network activity  [pdf · 1mb]

Working in groups of six, experiment with making the most secure network design.

Requires: String (no printing required).

Curriculum links

Digital Technologies: Plan, create and communicate ideas and information, including collaboratively online, applying agreed ethical, social and technical protocols (ACTDIP022) if completed in an online collaborative environment.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability: Independently or collaboratively create and modify digital solutions, creative outputs or data representation/ transformation for particular audiences and purposes.

Critical and creative thinking capability: Apply knowledge gained from one context to another unrelated context and identify new meaning. Identify and clarify relevant information and prioritise ideas. Reflect on, explain and check the processes used to come to conclusions. Identify and justify the thinking behind choices they have made.

Assess whether there is adequate reasoning and evidence to justify a claim, conclusion or outcome. Evaluate the effectiveness of ideas, products, performances, methods and courses of action against given criteria.

Online learning adjustments: This activity was to role play networks and changes to networks. It should be completed in groups. To modify it for online learning, teachers should develop an image with dots, which students then connect. Students will need to submit their network to their teachers, who will “cut” a path, and distribute the changed network back to students. Students should then use their online workspace to compare answers.


Drone delivery

Computational Thinking in Action: Drone delivery activity  [pdf · 1mb]

Investigate networks and efficiency by designing a network diagram for the delivery of the maximum number of packages between the West CBD and East CBD warehouse.

Extension: This activity can be a starter activity which leads to students brainstorming and developing solutions to current real world problems with drones. Encourage your students to research and pitch their ideas (printing required).

Curriculum links

Digital Technologies: Define and decompose real-world problems taking into account functional requirements and economic, environmental, social, technical and usability constraints (ACTDIP027). Investigate how data is transmitted and secured in wired, wireless and mobile networks, and how the specifications affect performance (ACTDIK023). Plan and manage projects that create and communicate ideas and information collaboratively online, taking safety and social contexts into account (ACTDIP032). Evaluate how student solutions and existing information systems meet needs, are innovative, and take account of future risks and sustainability (ACTDIP031).

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability: Explain the benefits and risks of the use of ICT for particular people in work and home environments. Assess the suitability of data or information using appropriate own criteria. Use appropriate ICT to collaboratively generate ideas and develop plans. Design and modify simple digital solutions, or multi-modal creative outputs or data transformations for particular audiences and purposes following recognised conventions. Independently or collaboratively create and modify digital solutions, creative outputs or data representation/ transformation for particular audiences and purposes.

Critical and creative thinking capability: Justify reasons for decisions when transferring information to similar and different contexts. Identify and clarify relevant information and prioritise ideas. Generate alternatives and innovative solutions, and adapt ideas, including when information is limited or conflicting. Predict possibilities, and identify and test consequences when seeking solutions and putting ideas into action. Evaluate the effectiveness of ideas, products, performances, methods and courses of action against given criteria.

Online learning adjustments: Students work individually and submit their solutions to each other or the online learning portal. Students engage in online discussions of the different solutions.


Facial recognition

Computational Thinking in Action: Facial recognition activity  [pdf · 1mb]

Explore the development of facial recognition algorithms by designing and testing your own.

Requires: Graph paper, ruler/measuring tape, calculator, string (no printing required).

Curriculum links

Digital Technologies: Define and decompose real-world problems taking into account functional requirements and economic, environmental, social, technical and usability constraints (ACTDIP027). Plan and manage projects that create and communicate ideas and information collaboratively online, taking safety and social contexts into account (ACTDIP032). Evaluate how student solutions and existing information systems meet needs, are innovative, and take. Account of future risks and sustainability (ACTDIP031). Analyse and visualise data using a range of software to create information, and use structured data to model objects or events (ACTDIP026).

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability: Assess the suitability of data or information using appropriate own criteria. Use appropriate ICT to collaboratively generate ideas and develop plans. Design and modify simple digital solutions, or multi-modal creative outputs or data transformations for particular audiences and purposes following recognised conventions. Independently or collaboratively create and modify digital solutions, creative outputs or data representation/ transformation for particular audiences and purposes.

Critical and creative thinking capability: Pose questions to clarify and interpret information and probe for causes and consequences. Analyse, condense and combine relevant information from multiple sources. Justify reasons for decisions when transferring information to similar and different contexts. Combine ideas in a variety of ways and from a range of sources to create new possibilities. Identify and clarify relevant information and prioritise ideas. Generate alternatives and innovative solutions, and adapt ideas, including when information is limited or conflicting. Predict possibilities, and identify and test consequences when seeking solutions and putting ideas into action. Evaluate the effectiveness of ideas, products, performances, methods and courses of action against given criteria.

Online learning adjustments: Use comparative images of famous people found online. Use digital measuring software or tools to measure the distance. Students compare measurements and image constructions of the same images online to determine which is the smiling measurements. Create a database of these measurements as a class and compare differences between age, gender, ethnicity.


Sorting algorithm

Computational Thinking in Action: Sorting algorithm activity  [pdf · 1mb]

Use Boolean operators to write code that can select a particular song from a playlist.

Requires: No additional equipment needed (no printing required).

Extension: Use the available Spotify datasets to create more extensive algorithms. Use Python or Pandas to code a song list generator for this dataset using Boolean statements to generate a playlist of 10 songs based on the responses to the Boolean statements. Students test and critique the effectiveness of their playlist generators. Students with limited or no programming understanding can complete this task manually by asking a Boolean OR statement contrasting two songs that differ strongly on one variable in a survey to their peers and finding average values for the statements. Using filtering techniques and some basic formulas, students can demonstrate their Excel knowledge and understanding.

Curriculum links

Digital Technologies: Acquire data from a range of sources and evaluate authenticity, accuracy and timeliness (ACTDIP025). Analyse and visualise data using a range of software to create information, and use structured data to model objects or events (ACTDIP026). Design algorithms represented diagrammatically and in English, and trace algorithms to predict output for a given input and to identify errors (ACTDIP029). Implement and modify programs with user interfaces involving branching, iteration and functions in a general-purpose programming language (ACTDIP030). Evaluate how student solutions and existing information systems meet needs, are innovative, and take account of future risks and sustainability (ACTDIP031).

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability: Assess the suitability of data or information using appropriate own criteria. Design and modify simple digital solutions, or multimodal creative outputs or data transformations for particular audiences and purposes following recognised conventions.

Critical and creative thinking capability: Apply knowledge gained from one context to another unrelated context and identify new meaning. Justify reasons for decisions when transferring information to similar and different contexts. Identify and clarify relevant information and prioritise ideas assess assumptions in their thinking and invite alternative opinions. Evaluate and justify the reasons behind choosing a particular problem solving strategy. Identify gaps in reasoning and missing elements in information.

Explain intentions and justify ideas, methods and courses of action, and account for expected and unexpected outcomes against criteria they have identified.

Online learning adjustments: Students should digitally swap Boolean statements.


Cell representation

Computational Thinking in Action: Kate Patterson cell representation activity  [pdf · 1mb]

Imagine you could use Virtual Reality (VR) technology to make the perfect model of a cell or another related biological concept. Students assess existing models then brainstorm the main features of a VR tour that would make this representation the 'perfect model'.

Requires: Worksheets either printed or digital (printing required).

Note: This activity has strong Science curriculum links as outlined below and works well for integrated units.

Curriculum links

Digital Technologies: Evaluate how student solutions and existing information systems meet needs, are innovative, and take account of future risks and sustainability (ACTDIP031). Design the user experience of a digital system, generating, evaluating and communicating alternative designs (ACTDIP028).

Science: Cells are the basic units of living things; they have specialised structures and functions (ACSSU149). Multi-cellular organisms contain systems of organs carrying out specialised functions that enable them to survive and reproduce (ACSSU150). Multi-cellular organisms rely on coordinated and interdependent internal systems to respond to changes to their environment (ACSSU175).

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability: Assess the suitability of data or information using appropriate criteria. Design and modify simple digital solutions, or multimodal creative outputs or data transformations for particular audiences and purposes following recognised conventions.

Critical and creative thinking capability: Apply knowledge gained from one context to another unrelated context and identify new meaning. Justify reasons for decisions when transferring information to similar and different contexts. Identify and clarify relevant information and prioritise ideas assess assumptions in their thinking and invite alternative opinions. Evaluate and justify the reasons behind choosing a particular problem solving strategy. Identify gaps in reasoning and missing elements in information.

Explain intentions and justify ideas, methods and courses of action, and account for expected and unexpected outcomes against criteria they have identified.

Online learning adjustments: Students collaborate online to develop their brainstorming skills. Use this resource and the Kate Patterson video as a jumping off point for the planning of a user experience, including story boarding and experience features. Students then assess and provide feedback to other groups about their proposals. This concept could also be applied to the study of body systems as well as cells.


Additional resources

Computational Thinking in Action: Ozobots activity  [pdf · 1mb]

Links for Computational Thinking in Action worksheets