Computer Science KS3 / KS4: What is an algorithm?

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

An algorithm is a clear sequence of instructions with a start, a finish, and usually some decisions in the middle.

They can be expressed in a flow chart.

The computer only makes mistakes if there are mistakes in the instructions.

These clips are from the series How to Think Like a Computer.

Teacher Notes

Units of measurement can be discussed and linked to Mathematics, both for measuring the rice (cups) and also for filling the mop bucket (litres).

Students can flowchart these algorithms or write them in pseudocode and then peer assess/evaluate them for efficiency.

Discuss the contributions of women in IT such as Ada Lovelace as the main character is called Ada.

Discuss testing the algorithm during development and also after development.

Discuss the reason for efficiency in an Algorithm.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching Computer Science at KS3 and KS4 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 4 and 5 in Scotland.