Computational Thinking overlaps a lot with the way mathematicians think. Both are ultimately about solving problems. Computer Science focusses a lot more on the idea of algorithms as solutions as well as the importance of logic. Computer Scientists rely on maths a lot, and increasingly mathematicians are relying on computational thinking. Algorithms are even being used to prove unsolved mathematical problems that human mathematicians have struggled with for years.
Computer Science topics can also be used to support numeracy, by giving an exciting, fun real world context for the importance of numbers and mathematics.
Maths forms the background of lots of our resources. Here we pick out some with the most direct links.
The following activities draw out issues on the links between maths and computing.
Numeracy: numbers, counting, practical use of numbers
- Pixel Puzzles
- These simple colour by number puzzles show how computer images are represented as numbers and come in several variations. In the simplest each number tells you how to colour a square. In others you are given a number telling you how many consecutive squares to colour.
Numeracy: multiplication tables
- Multiplication Table Pixel Puzzles
- These simple colour by number puzzles are a fun way to learn about the patterns in the times tables, and practice your times tables based on a deeper understanding, while also exploring how patterns can lead to new algorithms.
- The Teleporting Robot Activity
- This magical jigsaw puzzle can be used as a fun counting exercise (while showing that we can make something so complicated people can’t see what is going on). Put the jigsaw together and count the robots: one way and there are 17 robots, but rearrange the pieces and there are only 16.
- Kriss-Kross Puzzles
- Solve these word puzzles as a way to develop logical thinking and pattern matching skills needed to enjoy both computing and maths, while practicing counting and spelling.
- Algorithmic Doodle Art
- Follow simple algorithms involving fractions to draw pictures reminiscent of nature.
Numeracy: odd and even
- The Invisible Palming Magic Trick Activity
- This simple but surprisingly powerful magic trick is about algorithms but it is also a fun way to talk about odd and even numbers.
Shapes, Coordinates and Scaling
- Vector Drawing Puzzles
- Draw images by following instructions and see a practical use of coordinates and scaling.
- Magic: The Red Black Mind Meld Activity
- You control the actions of another placing cards making a red black prediction come true and see how algebra can be used to prove a trick (or algorithm) always works.
- The Australian Magicians Dream
- A magic trick that relies on powers of two and ultimately leads to binary numbers and the punch card searching activity below.
- Punch Card Searching
- Demonstrate how early computers were able to find data stored on punch cards using the above magic algorithm based on binary numbers.
- The Tour Guide Activity
- Explore graphs (the node and edge kind) and how they make problems easier drawing on computational thinking ideas such as algorithmic thinking, abstraction and evaluation.
- The Knight’s Tour Activity
- Take the above Tour Guide activity themes deeper, looking at graphs more deeply and exploring the importance of data representation, generalisation and pattern matching.
Booklets and Magazines to download
- A brief Tour of Computational Thinking: The Knight’s Tour and other puzzles
- A booklet writing up the combination of the Tour Guide and Knight’s Tour Activities exploring the use of graphs as an abstraction for representing computing problems.
- The Magic of Computer Science
- A booklet of magic tricks and the computing and maths ideas and principles behind them
- The Magic of Computer Science II: Now we have your attention
- A booklet of magic tricks and the computing, maths and psychology ideas and principles behind them
cs4fn subject portals
There are lots of fun articles on the cs4fn website linked to maths. See the following portals:
- Computer Science and Mathemagic
Here are some other related resources:
- Mathematical Magic from members of the cs4fn team
- GCSE Mathematical Magic from members of the cs4fn team
- Number Puzzles from DobMaths