# Puzzles and Computational Thinking

Teaching London Computing in conjunction with cs4fn and support from Google have produced a series of fun activities and booklets based around puzzles that teach computing topics and computational thinking for use in the classroom, suitable for all ages.

Do the puzzles and  develop computational thinking skills as well as learn about some core computing topics.

#### Tips from Teachers

In primary school, if you have a 10 minute calm down session at the end of the day, have a puzzle box with a mixture of different puzzle sheets for the kids to choose from (word searches, pixel puzzles, logic puzzles,  …) and spend their 10 minutes doing – improving their logical thinking skills and so maths and computing (and literacy skills) ten minutes at a time.

#### Booklets on Puzzles and Puzzle Books

• The cs4fn Computational Thinking Puzzle Book Issue 1
• Solve computational thinking and computing puzzles.
• Learn about computational thinking, algorithmic thinking, logical thinking, evaluation, data compression, image representation, binary, code cracking, search algorithms, famous computer scientists, graph algorithms and more.
• A Brief Tour of Computational Thinking: The Knight’s Tour and Other Puzzles
• Find a way for a Knight to visit every square on a board exactly once. In doing so find out what computational thinking is all about. See how algorithms are at its heart, allowing computer scientists to solve a problem once and then, as long as they have checked it carefully, avoid having to think about it ever again. See why computer scientists think hiding things makes their life easier, especially when they find a good way to represent information, and how an ability to match patterns lets the lazy computer scientist’s do no more work than absolutely necessary. Oh, and help a tourist guide at the same time.
• Learn about computational thinking, algorithmic thinking, evaluation, abstraction, data representation, generalisation and pattern matching, sequences of instructions, testing and requirements, graphs, graph algorithms and hamiltonian cycles.
• Computational Thinking: HexaHexaFlexagon Automata
• Make a red and yellow hexahexaflexagon by folding and gluing a multicoloured paper strip, following the algorithm. Once made you start to explore it. As you fold it up and unfold it, you magically reveal new sides as the flexagon changes colour. To explore it fully, you need a map. A graph seems a good representation, which you create as you explore.
• Learn about graphs, graph exploration algorithms, finite state machines (also called automata), specification, computational thinking, abstraction, data representation, computational modelling, generalisation and pattern matching, algorithmic thinking, evaluation, logical thinking.
• Computational Thinking: Cut Hive Logic Puzzles
•  Learn how to solve Cut Hive puzzles, simple logic puzzles that involve filling a hexagonal ‘hive’ with numbers so that no number appears next to itself. See how by deriving new general rules that extend the rules of the puzzle you unlock the power of pattern matching.
• Learn about logical thinking, deduction, rewrite rules, pattern matching, abstraction, generalisation and computational thinking.
• Computational Thinking: Cut Block Logic Puzzles
•  Learn how to solve Cut Block puzzles, simple logic puzzles that involve filling a grid with numbers so that no number appears next to itself. See how by deriving new general rules that extend the rules of the puzzle you unlock the power of pattern matching.
• Learn about logical thinking, deduction, rewrite rules, pattern matching, abstraction, generalisation and computational thinking.

#### Puzzle / Activity Sheets

• Sequencing and Looping Puzzles
• Put events from life cycles in to a flow chart structure
• Learn about sequences, loops and design stages of coding
• Aimed at KS1 pre-coders
• Pattern Matching Puzzles
• Pattern matching: spot them, complete them and spot the odd one out
• Learn about pattern matching and algorithmic thinking
• Puzzles for KS1-precoders upwards to KS5
• Word Searches
• Solve word search puzzles and learn about computational thinking and search algorithms.
• Learn about linear search, algorithmic thinking, computational thinking.
• 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 spelling.
• Bakuro
• Solve simple logical thinking puzzles and gain a deeper understanding of binary and how it is based on powers of two.
• Learn about binary representation of numbers, logical thinking, computational thinking.
• Number Hive Puzzles
• Solve simple logical thinking puzzles and gain a deeper understanding oflogical thinking and pattern matching.
• Learn about logical thinking, deduction, rewrite rules, pattern matching, abstraction, generalisation and computational thinking.
• Cut Block Puzzles
• Solve simple logical thinking puzzles and gain a deeper understanding of logical thinking and pattern matching.
• Learn about logical thinking, deduction, rewrite rules, pattern matching, abstraction, generalisation and computational thinking.
• Pixel Puzzles
• Solve simple logical thinking puzzles and gain a deeper understanding of image representation and compression.
• Learn about pixel representation of images, compression algorithms, data representation, logical thinking, computational thinking.
• Compression Code Puzzles
• Solve simple puzzles about words that involve decoding compressed messages.
• Learn about compression algorithms, data representation, pattern matching, computational thinking.
• Code Cracking Puzzles
• Solve code breaking puzzles and learn not just about codes but also language, calculating frequencies and percentages.
• Learn about cryptographic algorithms, frequency analysis, algorithmic thinking, computational thinking.
• The Chocolate Turing Machine
• Create “instruction tables” that solve computational problems.
• Learn about Turing machines, computation, symbol manipulation, low-level programming, data representation.
• The Tour Guide Activity
• Devise a tour that gets a tourist from their hotel to all the city sights and back to their hotel.
• Learn about algorithms, sequences of instructions, graphs, data representation, computational thinking, requirements.
• The Knight’s Tour Activity
• Solve a puzzle where you must find a way for a knight to visit every square on a board exactly once.
• Learn about graphs, data representation, generalisation, abstraction, pattern matching computational thinking, graph traversal algorithms algorithms.
• Magic: The Teleporting Robot Activity
• You put together a jigsaw that has 17 robots, but then put it together again and now it only has 16.
• Learn about computational thinking, human-computer interaction, usability, designing to prevent error.
• The Swap Puzzle Activity
• Solve a puzzle, coming up with an algorithm that your team can follow faster than anyone else.
• Learn about algorithms, computational thinking, testing, efficiency.
• Sherlock Syllogisms
• You just need very clear thinking to solve these pure logical thinking puzzles.
• Lost Tomb Puzzles
• Work out where the lost tombs are without digging
• Logical Thinking
• Complexity of algorithms: Tantrix Rotation Puzzles
• Learn about the complexity of algorithms and the most famous equation in computer science.

Watch this space for lots more puzzle-based activities. We have lots more unplugged activities in our activity section.

#### cs4fn on puzzles

The cs4fn puzzle portal has more puzzles that have a link to computing and computational thinking, including applets.

#### The Bebras competition and puzzles

The Bebras Competition run by the University of Oxford, involves doing computational thinking puzzles – get all your school entering this international computational thinking challenge. Your students can have a go at past years’ challenges – with answer booklets available.

#### More resources

More of our resources, including linked computing ‘story’ booklets can be found in our resources section. You may also want to look at cs4fn’s teacher resources or browse the latest cs4fn magazine.

Other excellent sources of a similar style of activity are the New Zealand based but globally used CS Unplugged site and the Glasgow University CS Inside project.

Support

The original version of this area was created due to support from Google’s CS4HS programme with additional support from  the Department for Education, Mayor of London and EPSRC through the CHI+MED research project and most recently the Institute of Coding.

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