This Connected article by Caitlin Duncan, introduces and explains the concept of algorithms.
Algorithms are everywhere working behind the scenes – suggesting the next movie to watch, providing the right search results, finding the best route to school and so much more. To help students understand this abstract concept, examples from everyday life, mathematics and computer programming are provided.
At level 2 in the technology curriculum the goal is to have students understand that there are relationships between the inputs, controlled transformations and outputs occurring within simple technological systems.
The students learn about some key technology and mathematical ideas related to algorithms:
- an algorithm is a list of steps that help solve a problem or complete a task
- algorithms for one problem can be used for similar problems
- in maths an algorithm is a term used to refer to a particular way of working out an answer (i.e. a written vertical algorithm is used to add, subtract, multiply or divide).
Check your school library for the article from the 2018 level 2 Connected journal ‘Step by Step’, download it as a Google slide presentation or order it from the Ministry of Education.
There are clear cut, simple explanations demonstrating how algorithms work and encouraging students to create their own versions.
Teacher support material and activities
The teacher support material (TSM) can be downloaded from TKI (Word and PDF files available).
There are three activities to help explore technology, mathematics and statistics, with extension ideas included.
- In Introducing algorithms lessons from Australia's Digital Technologies Hub, students design a sequence of steps for others to follow. They convey their instructions to peers and evaluate the work of others to determine if the outcome was successful.
- How many guesses? is part of a series of teaching and learning activities from CS Unplugged. This one demonstrates an algorithm called the 'sequential search'.
- See the Code Club Aotearoa’s website to find a coding club near you and see if a volunteer could come and run a session. Other possible useful contacts could be your local high school or college, tertiary institution or technology business.
Algorithms are an essential part of artificial intelligence.
In the Connected article Lighting the sky with Raspberry Pi discover how students created a digital light display for Matariki using Raspberry Pi computers.
Check out our entire range of Connected articles here. We’ve curated them by topic and concepts.
In the activity Making digital space debris clean-up games students create a game using an interactive model or game in Scratch. By the end of it students should be able to explain how algorithms are used in their digital outcome work.
As Easy as One, Two, Three, School Journal, Level 2, June 2018.
Code Club Aotearoa – a nationwide network of free volunteer-led coding clubs for kiwi kids.
WhatIs.com – algorithm provides a detailed definition and more.
Find out more about What is a computer algorithm? from the How Stuff Works website.
BBC Bitesize provides information and videos explaining What is an algorithm?
Explore the range of resources under the Algorithms topic on the Digital Technologies Hub (Australia) website.
See the CS Unplugged website for Searching algorithms (this provides a series of teaching and learning activities for various levels from, including How many guesses? and What is computational thinking?)
The Wonder Project is Engineering New Zealand’s free programme for schools, designed to get young Kiwis excited about science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
Find out more about Technology in the New Zealand Curriculum on TKI, including a wide range of resources.
See the 2021 Digital Skills for our Digital Future Report.
Add a nature conservation angle and download the Animation and stop motion with whio (PDF, 2,078 K) activity from the Department of Conservation.
The Connected journals can be ordered from the Down the Back of the Chair website. Access to these resources is restricted to Ministry-approved education providers. To find out if you are eligible for a login or if you have forgotten your login details, contact their customer services team on 0800 660 662 or email email@example.com.
The Connected series is published annually by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand.