Today, we have been hearing the word “algorithm” more than ever. Algorithms are one of the most important building blocks of coding and from calculators to artificial intelligence, coding is used to enable digital systems to function. Starting from small steps algorithms can be learnt and developed in a good way. The more efficiently we develop an algorithm, the better results we get and achieve our goals successfully.
What is an algorithm?
An algorithm is a set of steps to reach an objective or solve a problem. For example, when we cook a meal, we follow a recipe consisted of several preparation steps. These steps refer to an algorithm. Generally, different meals have different recipes that are different algorithms. The same meal can even have different recipes meaning it can be prepared in various ways
Is creating an algorithm difficult?
Everyone can create an algorithm There are difficult ones as well as easy algorithms. But, creating an efficient algorithm is a kind of art For example, we can follow many paths to reach a destination. One path can be time-efficient taking us where want to go earlier/on time, while the other path can be preferable because it is economic
What are the types of algorithms?
Here, we will share only three basic types of algorithms that can be taught in early childhood education through play-based learning.
1- Linear Algorithms: In this algorithm, each step comes after the previous one like our morning routine. Everyone can have a different routine, but the steps such as getting up, taking a shower, having breakfast, washing hands and face, getting dressed, etc. follow each other. Below is an algorithm of a morning routine.
This can be turned into a learning activity as follows. Kindergarten children can draw pictures and display their morning activities. Then they can order the pictures and show their morning routines in a linear algorithm. Volunteer children can role-play their morning routines and other children try to guess which activities are ordered.
2- Selection Algorithms: Sometimes, in an algorithm, at some points, there may be more than one path (or a set of steps) to be followed. So we need to make a decision and select one of the paths to continue. Let’s say we plan a learning activity that we teach 2 fruits and 2 vegetables (Banana, Pear – Carrot, Corn) (We assume that children have prior knowledge about the concepts of yellow and blue colours and also the animals given below). We can plan this play-based learning activity by using selections in our algorithm as follows.
Preparation stage: We determine two corners in the classroom (yellow corner, blue corner). We put two baskets in the corners. One includes bananas and pears, and the other includes carrots and boiled corns).
We give yellow circle cards to half of the children and blue cards to the other half (one card per child – children can choose the colour they want to get.).
We determine 4 animals (bear, monkey, rabbit, squirrel – and we tell children which animal likes which fruit/vegetable most) and prepare index cards with pictures of these animals. We distribute the index cards to the children (one per child – bear and monkey go to the children with a yellow card – rabbit and squirrel go to the children with a blue card).
Implementation Stage: We ask the question to each child in turns “Do you have a yellow card?” If a child has a yellow card, s/he goes to the yellow corner of the classroom, if not then goes to the blue corner and they all are divided into two groups in this way. (At this point, each child makes a decision by looking at the colour of the card in his/her hand.)
Then we ask the second question to the yellow cardholders. Are you a bear? If a child holds the picture of a bear, s/he imitates it and picks a pear. If not, imitates a monkey and picks a banana. The same activity continues with all yellow cardholders. The activity goes on with the blue cardholders. Their second question is “Are you a rabbit?” If a child holds the picture of a rabbit, s/he imitates it and picks a carrot. If not, then imitates a squirrel and picks boiled corn. The same activity continues with all blue cardholders. (Decision-making process requires children to reason.)
At the end of the activity, children can eat their fruits/vegetables). And they can plan a similar activity in groups with the help of the teacher and play it. Below is the diagram of the algorithm in this learning activity.
3- Cyclic Algorithms (Loops – Iteration)
If we need to repeat the same activity to complete a task or achieve a goal, then we have a cyclic algorithm. And each iteration refers to a step of a cyclic algorithm. For example, if we have to wash 10 dirty dishes after dinner, it means we will repeat the same “dish-washing” activity 10 times. While coding, we do not command a robot “wash the first dish”, “wash the second dish”, … one by one until the tenth dish. We write a simple code to make it repeat the activity. For example, if we want children to dance or jump until the music is over, we won’t say, dance, dance, dance until the end. We just say, let’s dance/jump until the song is over. The logic is quite similar.
Music Used in the video:
Give Me A Smile by Free Music | https://soundcloud.com/fm_freemusic
Music promoted by https://www.chosic.com/
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