The power of abstract thinking
Educational benefits of computational thinking
Computational thinking embraces the methods and abilities to express and solve problems in languages that a computer could understand, process and execute. However, it is not uniquely about the computing world, but it has also many educational benefits that improve people’s intellectual skills, which can be applied to any sphere of life.
Computer scientists already know the value of abstract thinking as they are used to think by using multiple abstract levels to manage complexity. In other words, they use computational thinking techniques and abilities, some of which are:
- Decomposition. An example of this could be the ability to identify the ingredients of an unknown meal based on its taste.
- Patterns recognition. Just as the capital markets analysts use the technical analysis to decide when they should buy or sell actions.
- Patterns and abstraction generalization. For example, we use abstraction in agendas to represent a week in days and hours.
- Algorithmic design. When a chef is writing a cooking recipe, for example, he is creating an algorithm which allows other people to cook the same meal by following his instructions.
A continued work and development of these techniques and skills will give us benefits such as:
- Understanding which aspects of a problem can be solved through computer science.
- To evaluate the most suitable computing tools and techniques for a problem or situation.
- To understand the limits and capacities of computing tools and techniques.
- Applying or adapting a computing tool or technique for a new use.
- To recognize the opportunities of using computing science techniques in an innovative way.
- Applying computing strategies such as “divide and conquer” to any area.
Computational thinking and STEM careers
In addition to the foregoing, we must also bear in mind the practical side of these abilities, which will allow our students to use computers as creation tools by developing its own programs or contributing to its development whatever their professional careers. Some of these possibilities could include:
- Creation of computer applications (such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Gmail…)
- Creation of smartphones and tablets applications (Whatsapp, Instagram…)
- Creation of videogames
- Development of robotics management software
- Artificial intelligence and virtual reality
- Creation of new medical techniques (Bioinformatics)
- Space career (NASA, European Space Agency…)