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Our daily lives are filled with elements of computer science. Decomposition, pattern recognition, algorithm design and abstraction are the foundations of computational thinking; they are also traits that make us human. Computational thinking is about teaching these traits to a computer so they can be automated.
I was inspired by geometry and Keynote animations. What began as an experiment in creating a rotation turned into an exercise in symmetry, patterning, and angles. As I created a more complex symmetrical pattern, I was reminded of the beautiful geometry in a kaleidoscope.
Computational thinking and coding are embedded in the kaleidoscope. As we put the pieces together, we are exercising pattern recognition. Making decisions on what elements to include in the pattern is a form of abstraction. Decomposition happens as we build and combine the pattern elements. All of the repeating steps in the creation of the kaleidoscope are part of algorithm design.
Using computational thinking vocabulary is a valuable piece of building student literacy. Using the vocabulary when teaching and talking about this project will build student and teacher capacity when it comes time to delve into more complex coding.
As I planned the kaleidoscope activity, I understood that the more we build literacy around coding the more beneficial it will be for our students moving about not only the digital space but also in the real world. Coding can connect to all areas of the curriculum; I demonstrated that the coding can connect to Science, Art, Math, and Language Arts in the Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta curricula.
This activity has many access points for all learners. Those students who are just starting on their coding journey or who already have experience can find multiple access points in this activity. If you’re a teacher new to coding, this is a great place to start!
Seeing students excited about their beautiful designs and hearing them use computational thinking and math vocabulary was a sign of success. They learned how to use Keynote for design, easily changing the colour of elements, grouping, rotating, and duplicating. I love it when students learn to use Keynote to go beyond presentations.
Try this activity with your class! They can create a kaleidoscope of symbols from their literature circle novels (imagine what a kaleidoscope of Hatchet by Gary Paulsen could look like!); a mosaic from an ancient culture; or a space themed Science Kaleidoscope. The possibilities are as infinite as turns of a kaleidoscope.
Move on to Swift Playgrounds after this with the Everyone Can Code Projects. For more creative lessons with iPad, check out the Everyone Can Create guides.
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