Today we began our Computer Science Discoveries course. Our goal today was to build a boat that holds the most marbles, using a piece of tin foil. We were to build two boats and try to improve our design between the first and second attempts. The structure of the activity foreshadows different steps of the problem-solving process that students will be introduced to in more detail in the following lesson. At the end of the lesson, students reflect on their experiences with the activity and make connections to the types of problem-solving they will be doing for the rest of the course.
The aluminum boats problem could easily be substituted out for any number of other problems that require students to define their goals, devise a plan, try a solution, evaluate their results, and then iteratively improve from there. The fact that the problem chosen is "non-computational" is intentional. Computer science is fundamentally a problem-solving discipline and staying away from traditional computer science problems at this points helps to frame this class as one about problem-solving more generally with computer science being a new "tool" to help attack certain types of problems.