Computational Thinking

Our approach to computer science, computational thinking, and computer programming is interdisciplinary. We believe that “Computer Science for All” requires that these areas be woven throughout K-12 experiences. Doing so ensures that, in today’s technology-driven society, all students gain equitable access to career opportunities.

At The Tech we place a special emphasis on computational thinking (CT) since it is fundamental to computer programming and problem-solving, skills that allow youth to be creators, not just consumers, of digital content. CT is a problem-solving process that can be broadly applied across content areas and everyday life.


CT Resources

Computer Science Education Principles

Key principles for teaching computational thinking and computer programming in any setting.

Computational Thinking

Learn the four elements of computational thinking to solve problems big and small.

Computer Programming

Practice and share the building blocks of computer programming -- no experience required!

Computational Thinking Poster

Classroom visuals that define computational thinking and its elements. These foundational skills support computer science education for students of all ages.


CT Lessons and Activities

Butterfly Algorithms

Grades K-3

Create a simple algorithm to model the life cycle of a butterfly. Then write this algorithm using conditionals and program it on a computer.

Lesson: 70 minutes

Computer Vision: Buzz Solutions

Grades K-12

Use this video and prompt to spark engagement: Computer vision is a type of artificial intelligence technology that teaches a computer how to identify certain objects in images. Can you think of an example of when a computer makes a task easier?

Drones: Buzz Solutions

Grades K-12

Use this video and prompt to spark engagement: Vik built a drone and attached some pollution monitoring sensors on it to find out how polluted the air was in his city, New Delhi. How else do you imagine we could use drones to collect data? Can you think of a way that drones could solve problems in the world?

Program a Friend

Grades 1-8

Learn the language of robots as you “program” a partner to perform a simple task. (Lab Connection: Social Robots)

Lesson: 30-45 minutes

Demonstrating Change Over Time

Grades 3-5

Apply computational thinking to create or modify a computer program in Scratch that shows how the moon appears throughout the lunar cycle.

Lesson: 180 to 240 minutes

Puzzling Procedure

Grades 3-5

Create an algorithm (instructions) for others to solve a jigsaw puzzle using computational thinking.

Lesson: 40 minutes

Decontamination Algorithm

Grades 3-8

Create a sequence of questions to help you figure out what surfaces are contaminated after you or someone else does a task.

Lesson: 20-60 minutes

Get in the Game

Grades 3-8

Use computational thinking (decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction, and algorithms) to design your own board game!

Lesson: 90 minutes

Responsible Reservoirs

Grades 5-8

Play a game that shows the complicated cause and effect relationship involved in major environmental decisions.

Activity: 20+ minutes

Analyzing Patterns in Voter Data

Grades 9-12

Analyze, map and graph voter data in this data science and computational thinking lesson. Then take on the role of data journalists to share the story of your data with others.

Lesson: 90 minutes

Redistricting Unplugged

Grades 9-12

Students apply computational thinking to the real-world problem of redistricting as they use abstraction to redraw a series of maps.

Lesson: 60 minutes


Cyber Security and Internet Safety Lessons

Our interactive Cyber Detectives exhibit empowers visitors to manage their own Internet safety. Introduce students to scams, digital forensics, and strategies for internet safety with these classroom activities designed in partnership with Discovery Education.

Creative Coding: The Internet of Things

Grades 4-6

As employees at a top tech company, students are tasked with adding a new non-tech product to the Internet of things.

Lesson: 60 minutes

Cryptobabel: Coded Communication

Grades 4-6

Students are presented with a top-secret scenario in which they must intercept a message from a spy.

Lesson: 75-90 minutes

Cyber Forensics: Digital Footprints

Grades 4-6

Students will take on the role of digital forensic investigators who have been tasked with investigating a recent store robbery.

Lesson: 45-55 minutes

Hashing and Cracking: Password Essentials

Grades 4-6

Students take on the role of an entrepreneur creating their own company website. How can they make the login system as secure as possible?

Lesson: 50-60 minutes

Social Engineering: Scam Alert!

Grades 4-6

Students will become members of their school’s Scam Alert Team to help protect their community from internet scams.

Lesson: 50-60 minutes


Tech for Tomorrow Virtual Field Trip

Grades K-12

This career-focused virtual field trip takes your students on a road trip through Silicon Valley to meet some of the region’s smartest and most innovative tech experts. Viewers get a sneak peek inside some real-life medical labs, workshops and makerspaces and hear advice about how they can follow their passions to work in tech, too!

Along the way, they’ll get to experience some of our favorite exhibits and make the connection between what we do here and the exciting work of tech engineers and entrepreneurs.

Video: 30 min
Pre and Post activities: 90 min

Watch Virtual Field Trip

Educator Guide