Real world problem solving

Learn about computers and real world problem solving.

This lesson includes:

  • a video to help you understand algorithms
  • a video to help you understand problem solving
  • three activities to try out


By learning how to code people can create programs that will help solve all sorts of problems.

Before the coding starts, people have to analyse the problem they are trying to solve.

Watch this film to understand how algorithms are used to break down problems.

A teenage programmer creates an algorithm to teach her computer a dance routine.

Programming a delivery robot

Lots of work goes into analysing real world problems before the coding starts.

Many companies are researching into how to use autonomous vehicles to safely deliver our packages.

This film breaks down how one tech company Starship Technologies used computational thinking to create a robot to solve this problem.

Dev from Radio 1 learns how a tech company uses computational thinking to create a robot delivery vehicle.

The robot is designed to make last-mile home deliveries of small items and Dev discovers how it interacts with pedestrians, avoids obstacles, and keeps its cargo safe.

The designers focussed on four essential questions in developing the robot:

How does the robot plan its journey? It uses GPS satellites and uses algorithms to plan a route using pavements and avoiding hazards like road-works and busy pedestrian areas.

How does it react to obstacles? It has sensors to detect its environment - 9 cameras, radar and ultrasonic sensors.

How does it keep the cargo safe? For safety the cargo can only be unlocked by a smartphone code. It also has an alarm and GPS tag. It also has a human operator at base who is alerted of any problems.

How does it co-exist with people? Lots of time was put into developing a vehicle that looks friendly and non-threatening. It can also only go at a maximum speed of 4 mph.

Watch more films about how computer science is used to tackle real world problems in the series Computer Science: Problem Solved


Activity 1

Explore more about how solutions are designed using software with SAM Learning.

Decomposing problems

Activity 2

Practise coding a simple name sorting program using Python.

Try this activity and explore more coding activities with Raspberry Pi.

Team Chooser coding activity

Activity 3

Reducing energy usage in the home saves money, increases energy security and reduces the need to burn unsustainable fossil fuels. The first step in doing this is monitoring how much energy is used each day.

This is a coding activity using Javascript or Python and is designed for the Microbit. If you don't have access to a Microbit it can be adapted for other devices.

Explore this coding challenge and more computing projects from IET

Create a home energy monitor program

Where next?

In this lesson you have learnt about computational thinking and decomposing problems.

Click on the links below for more help with computing:

Watch more clips about computational thinking in the series How to Think Like a Computer.

There's more to learn

Bitesize Daily lessons
KS3 Computer Science
Jobs that use Computing and ICT
KS3 Computer Science
Practise coding with Scratch
Play CBBC games