Keeping Up with EdTech and EdPsych

Computer Science in the Content Areas

Computer Science involves “the study of computers and algorithmic processes, including their principles, their hardware and software designs, their applications, and their impact on society” (Tucker, 2006). The types of skills that underpin the work that computer scientists do are referred to as Computational Thinking. There’s a common misconception that computational thinking is limited to coding or programming — but the thinking processes and approaches that help with computing are also useful in many other domains.

Let’s BUST some of the common myths related to computational thinking:

Myth #1: It’s just about computers.

BUSTED: Although computers can be used to help solve problems and support students in becoming computational thinkers, limiting computational thinking solely to the use of computers is an oversimplification.

Myth #2: It’s the same thing as math.

BUSTED: Mathematics in school is about solving traditional math problems, whereas computational thinking is about using problem solving strategies to generate solutions that can be automated.

Problem Decomposition

Computational thinking involves problem decomposition: the process of breaking a problem into manageable parts. This allows us to find the most effective ways to solve problems, and also allows problems to be tackled by a team working together. Computational thinking involves problem solving strategies that– among other skills — include algorithms, abstraction, and automation.


Algorithms involve identifying and planning the steps or rules for completing a project. For example, students might write follow instructions for playing a piece of music, completing a recipe, or conducting a collaborative project (such as a play or research project).


Abstraction is the process of reducing a complex problem or concept to its bare essence.  For example, in building a model of the solar system, students would create the planets, but not all of the stars. Other examples of abstraction include summarizing a story or playing the game 20 Questions, activities that encourage learners to focus on essential details.


Automation is the use of digital tools and technology to automate the solution to a problem in an efficient way. For example, students could simulate the stock market, engage in historical reenactment, or use NetLogo (free software) to manipulate variables within, or to create, a simulation.

CSTA and ISTE identify 9 core computational thinking ideas for K-12 classrooms that include: data collection, data analysis, data representation, problem decomposition, abstraction, algorithms & procedures, automation, parallelization, and simulation (as illustrated in the image below):

Computational Thinking Concepts


Additional Resources


Computer Science Clubs

Courses for Educators

Teaching Resources & Activities


Tucker, Allen, (2006), Deek, F., Jones, J., McCowan, D., Stephenson, C., and Verno, A. A Model Curriculum for K-12 Computer Science: Final Report of the ACM K-12 Task Force Curriculum Committee. Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), New York, New York.

September Newsletter – 2016

MAET Summer Connections

“Eventually everything connects – people, ideas, objects. The quality of the connections is the key to quality per se.” – Charles Eames, American designer & architect

From East Lansing to Chicago to Galway, Ireland – the summer has been full of face-to-face learning opportunities for our MAET and MSUrbanSTEM students. While we are familiar with connecting online, and do so often, there is something special about coming together around the globe! Every summer for the past few years, we have designed special projects to celebrate our internationally-connected learning experiences. You may have seen some of our videos in the past! This year, we asked our students to reflect on what the word “connection” means to them. From these phrases, we have created a random Haiku generator around the theme of connection! Click the button below to view randomly generated Haikus from our connected students.

*East Lansing denoted by green wall, Chicago denoted by white wall, Galway denoted by black wall.




July Newsletter – 2016

June Newsletter – 2016

April Newsletter – 2016

#MACUL16 Computational Thinking Carnival Resources

CT in the Classroom

Are you interested in learning more about Computational Thinking (CT)? Are you looking to implement CT in your classroom? Here are some resources and links that you will find useful:

What is Computational Thinking?

Let’s first get rid of the idea that computational thinking is programming . “It is not even thinking like a computer, as computers do not, and cannot, think.” (Source: BBC).

Computational thinking is using problem solving strategies that involve breaking down complex problems into more familiar ones (problem decomposition), using a sequence of steps to solve the problem (algorithms), reducing the complexities of a problem and focusing on the essential details to solve it (abstraction), and using digital tools and technology to automate the solutions (automation). These are the underpinning of skills that computer scientists use in their work.

CSTA and ISTE identifies 9 core computational thinking ideas for K-12 classrooms include: data collectiondata analysisdata representationproblem decompositionabstractionalgorithms & proceduresautomation, parallelization, and simulation.

 What Computational Thinking is Not?

  • Computational thinking is not just using computers. Computational thinking can easily be confounded as simply “using computers”. While computers can be used to help solve problems and support students in becoming computational thinkers, oversimplifying it to using computers/technology in the classroom is imprecise. The role of computers in computational thinking is about executing processes and solutions to problems that can been represented by an information processing agent (i.e, a computer).
  • Computational thinking is not mathematics. Another common misconception is that computational thinking is equivalent to mathematics. Mathematics in school is about solving very traditional math problems whereas computational thinking is about using problem solving strategies (see above) to generate solutions that can be automated.

 Computational Thinking in K-12: Resources

Here are some resources for teachers to learn more about what computational thinking is and how to embed CT concepts and capabilities in a K-12 classroom.

  • BBC has a great resource that provides an introduction to essential computational thinking ideas.
  • CS4FN has classroom resources and activities to support teaching computational thinking.
  • Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) and International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) have developed computational thinking teacher resource.
  • Computing at School in the UK has developed a guide for teachersto embed computational thinking
  • Google has a free online course called Computational Thinking for Educators.

This post was originally published by Dr. Aman Yadav for the CT4EDU research group.

Join MAET at MACUL 2016 this week

How do you tackle complex problems while having FUN? At our Computational Thinking Carnival, of course!

Join us at MACUL 2016 on March 10-11 in Exhibit Hall booth #226:

  • • Explore the core concepts of computational thinking while playing Fix the Ferris Wheel, Ring Toss Remix, Pick a Pop, and Guess the Number.
  • • Create connections to your content area.
  • • Share strategies for integrating computational thinking into your classroom.

Plus, connect with Team #MAET colleagues and order your very own limited-edition Team MAET t-shirt!

Not able to attend in person? Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and engage in backchannel conversations with the #MACUL16 and #MAET hashtags!

March Newsletter – 2016

Get your own #teamMAET shirt!

Team MAET shirtShow your #teamMAET pride with these fashionable, 3/4 sleeve, green and white raglan tees — available for a limited time from March 1 – April 1. Only $17 plus shipping directly to your location (see order page for details).

Order yours today!

Please note: if you choose the option to pick up your shirt, RetroDuck will contact you via email to arrange a date and time.

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