I have to give a shout out to Alfred Thompson and his blog post from earlier this month. He was sharing his thoughts about how to create problems for solution in the Computer Science classroom.
If you follow some of the simple stuff online, you might think that the goal is to get a robot to draw a square or something. It’s an OK place to start but the study of Computer Science goes much deeper.
If you use a textbook in Computer Science (if you can find one that meshes nicely with your program, that is…), you’ll find that the problems offered don’t go that deeply into the discipline. Consequently, Computer Science teachers are constantly looking for interesting and challenging problems to assign for student solution. In many ways, it can be the ultimate in personalization as you search for things to match not only the curriculum you’re covering but that are engaging for students. You know when you’ve hit a good one when students spend so much time coming up with elegant solutions and then are willing to discuss with you how they did it.
Now, this won’t be your first selection for students starting to cut their teeth in Computer Science. These are problems that are pretty meaty. Even if they don’t lend themselves to creating a program, they’re a good start for some interesting work with Computational Thinking.
Here’s an nifty problem to start with – rated middle school and up.
For the Ontario ICS courses, you just might inspiration for using the problems “off the rack” or with modification for your needs. The collection goes back to 1999 so there’s a great deal of inspiration there. Have at it.