Collaborative Research: Computational Thinking Olympiad (CTO)

This project focuses on developing the infrastructure for a self-sustaining organization that can manage, grow, and evangelize olympiads that involve young students (middle and junior high) in computational thinking. A large component is the creation of pilot olympiads in a select few cities in the United States. Specific goals of this project include: (1) identifying a set of foundational skills that underlie computational thinking that can be taught before college and high school; (2) identifying a style of problems and scenarios that engage a wide variety of students; and (3) implementing a curriculum of training sessions and contest questions that exemplify those foundational skills.

There are two broad reasons for creating a Computational Thinking Olympiad. First, to expose the fundamentals of computational thinking to a broad audience of potential researchers and practitioners in the field, thus increasing participation and diversity in computing. Second, to ensure long-lasting impact beyond of this project.

The success of the Computational Thinking Olympiad will have a significant impact on our society by introducing middle school students to computational thinking in its breadth and depth: (1) encouraging students to have fun with the computational thinking in an arena that is both cooperative and competitive; (2) encouraging students to pursue education in computing; (3) introducing the unplugged parts of computing to those who have not had access to the plugged-in parts; and (4) showing that computational thinking is not ``just'' programming.

Principal Investigators