When you hear the word 'Algorithm', what’s the first image that comes to your mind?
Is it nested complex structure of codes or applications loading in the computer? Well, that's not the entire picture. The word algorithm might sound technical and geeky. But, algorithms are ubiquitous.
From your Netflix recommendations to your ATM system, everything works based on an algorithm.
An algorithm is a series of steps intended to be performed in a sequence to get something done. The tasks you perform daily are governed by the principles of algorithms.
Assume, you have to drop your kids at school and reach the office.
The shortest route you take daily is blocked, and now you have to figure out an alternative. You can use Google maps to find the optimal route with less traffic. Have you ever wondered how it works?
Google Maps finds the shortest path by using Dijkstra’s Algorithm. It calculates the distance between destinations and finds the shortest route for you to travel.
So, if you learn how Dijkstra’s algorithm works, you will be able to find the optimal route even when your phone is dead.
Using algorithms or step-by-step procedures to perform tasks more efficiently is called Algorithmic Thinking. It’s breaking down a bigger problem to small solvable tasks and considering the essential steps to build a solution. Let’s dive deeper into knowing how you can develop the algorithmic thinking muscle.
How does this help you?
Algorithmic thinking instils clarity in your thought process and builds up problem-solving and communication skills.
From building daily habits to hitting your financial goals, you can break down a problem and write your version of the algorithm that will work for you. Since all the decisions you make and the situations you would go through would be clearly defined in a step-by-step fashion, you'd not fumble or feel ambiguous about the task at hand.
Since we repeat and scrutinize every step, adopting an algorithmic approach towards solving problems will enable you to be more efficient—efficiency to avoid decision fatigue.
Algorithmic Thinking for Kids
In that case, helping your kids to adopt algorithmic thinking at an early stage in daily life will significantly increase their performance.
The ability to break down a problem and come up with steps to solve it will aid the kids to optimize the learning process and their day-to-day activities.
As parents, what can you do to help your kid develop an algorithmic thinking mindset?
Make it interesting for kids and indulge them in activities they would voluntarily like to do.
Introduce Kids to the concept of coding.
A research states that programming skills can be improved in kids by teaching algorithmic logic and reasoning.
Coding for kids is fun and stimulating, primarily if taught in the right way. While learning to code, kids understand the concepts of finding a problem, breaking the problem down to basic statements, finding solutions, sequencing solutions, test them logically and solve them. This process indirectly builds the algorithmic thinking skills required for them to tackle the daily challenges.
Coding will help kids understand how problems are solved and to create a method that can be used to solve similar problems.
You can talk to your kids to understand their preferences.
While designing games, kids will get to choose the premise. They will find a problem in the game - a monster to defeat or a goldmine to find; Build actions backed by logic to program the character to achieve the end goal. Then they will sequence the steps. For instance, only when the fruit is ripe, it can be harvested and it will take 15 minutes for the fruit to ripe once the seed is sown.
The pseudo-code might look like this:
IF SEED IS SOWN AND
If (TIME ELAPSED IS 15 MIN )
THEN FRUIT IS RIPE.
(IF FRUIT IS RIPE
Here, essential concepts of computational thinking like repetition, sequence and conditional logic are established.
According to this research, kids who code will have an edge for thinking, creativity, metacognition and orientation skills. They'll naturally be able to structure thoughts, look for solutions, and persist till they find a workable solution.
Hence, coding can help kids develop an algorithmic thinking mindset at a very young age.
Also Read: Importance of Coding for Future Jobs (Link the First Blog)
Start your kids’ coding adventure today.
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