Teaching Computer Science without computers

One of the main misconceptions about Computer Science is that it only deals with programming or coding. Computer Science is much more than that! Even more, it can (and should) be taught at an early age. Most of the concepts can be taught without using computers in a fun way!


The education of Computer Science is often limited to programming. However, this domain is much broader. A good overview of its components was given by Gilles Dowek in 2012 and defines the following elements:

  1. language: elements of programming languages, formal languages,...
  2. algorithms: sorting, calculations with binary numbers, path finding,...
  3. data representation: databases, compression, image representation,...
  4. architectures: networks, robots, processors,...

Thanks to CSUnplugged.org the basics of all these concepts can be easily taught without use of a computer. The CS Unplugged handbook contains an interesting collection of games related with computer science, which can be played with children and young people. The games are constructed so that the players explore different solutions and come up with their own answers. Afterwards, the answers are discussed in group and linked with computer science theory.

Those eager to find more unplugged activities can try some of the CS4FN activities such as their magic tricks or try our own fax simulation game.

In the 2014 MOOC on Computer Science education by the European Schoolnet CS Unplugged was introduced to European teachers by Dwengo. This is what teachers thought about it:

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Are you tempted to give it a try? Start NOW!