Grover and Pea explored the rationale for incorporating computational thinking into the K-12 curriculum. The authors explained the varied perspectives and evolving definitions of computational thinking in order to develop a rationale for its inclusion in main stream classrooms. CT “ involves solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior, by drawing on the concepts fundamental to computer science.” Although it is clear that computer science is pervasive in today’s society, it is still unclear how CT should be included in school. For example, should it be taught as a separate subject, or integrated within the existing curriculum? Challenges in incorporating CT include teacher training, development of pedagogical content knowledge, and the need for gender-neutrality. Additional research is needed to explore developmentally appropriate ways to teach CT for varying ages and skill levels.
Sengupta et al. make the case that not only is computational thinking and important skill in its own right, but that it should also be used to teach students how to develop and interact with representations in science and math. Integrating CT into science curricula can effectively deepen students’ understanding of natural phenomena. Agent based computer programs like StarLOGO have a “low floor and high ceiling” – allowing easy access for beginners as well as enrichment opportunities for advanced learners. These types of programs are effective tools for introducing CT through science modeling activities. Thus, students can engage in CT and scientific practices at the same time.
I personally feel that that it is very important to incorporate CT into the curriculum because so far knowledge in computer science has not been equitably distributed. For example, although my elementary school had a “computer science class” this was limited to learning how to type, how to make power point presentations, and how to surf the web. No mention was made of programming or any type of CT. This uneven distribution of knowledge/skills is reflected in the gender gap that exists in the CS industry. Not only is CT an important skill for the future, but it is also a good way to develop problem solving and critical thinking skills. The latter is especially important if today’s society is becoming increasingly reliant on technology.