Problem Solving
Time 1.9 hrs

Difficulty Beginner
Prerequisites None
Departments Science
Authors Sandra Kuipers
Groupings Individual
Minimum Year Group None


Solving problems is one of the most fundamental skills in programming, along with persistence and creativity. This unit looks at how we can turn problem solving into a logical process.


Learner Outcomes
Students will:
  • ...
Competency Focus
  • ...
Interdisciplinary Connections
  • ...
What was successful? What needs changing? Alternative Assessments and Lesson Ideas? What other Differentiation Ideas/Plans could be used?
  • ...
Any CC attribution, thanks, credit, etc.

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5 mins
Decision Making
Getting Started
  • Humans make decisions every minute. Big decisions, like what to believe, who to like, and what to do with our life; and small decisions like what to eat, when to sleep, and whether to pet our cat when it meows.
    • Sometimes we act logical.
    • Sometimes we act very illogical.
    • The bigger the decision, the more complex it gets, with many different factors to consider.
  • Most of the time, our decisions are simple, and follow a certain kind of logic.
    • For example: How do you decide when to get up for school?
    • This depends on a few factors:
    • How long does it take you to get ready, and how long does it take you to get to school?
    • If getting ready takes 40 minutes and getting to school takes 20 minutes, then you should likely be getting up at least 60 minutes before school. Logic! (and some math)
5 mins
Thinking like a Computer
It's all logic
  • Computers make decisions every nanosecond (a billionth of a second!). They act very logical, even if we don't always understand what they're doing.
  • Before we can start to program computers, we have to start to think like a computer.
    Image by Max Pixel is licensed under CC0
  • Computers think in logic, and computer logic involves a lot of yes/no scenarios (also known as boolean: true/false or 1/0).
  • Flowcharts are a great way to start training our brains to think logically.
5 mins
How do they work?

We use flowcharts to diagram a step-by-step approach to solving a task or making a decision.

  • A basic flowchart includes a few things:
    • A Starting Point - Usually rounded.
    • Decisions - Where we decide things. A Yes/No question in a diamond shape.
    • Processes - Where something happens. Usually square.
    • One or more End Points - This is the end result of our flow chart. Often rounded
  • Check out the wiki page for more parts of a flowchart.
5 mins
Following the Flow
How to read a flowchart
  • We read flow charts by starting at the Start, then following the arrows. At each decision, make a choice and follow the arrow. Continue until you reach and End point.
  • Flow charts can be as simple or complex as needed. Sometimes the arrows loop back to the start, sometimes they stop in a dead-end.

5 mins
Problem Solving

Flowcharts are a powerful problem-solving tool. The following comic, although intended to be funny, provides a very good reminder that we can solve our own problems if we think hard, try different things, and search online:

"Tech Support Cheat Sheet" by xkcd is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.5

80 mins
Create your Flowchart
  • Pick a topic. It could be silly, serious, helpful, or entirely random.
  • Make a flow chart. Be sure to have a starting point, plenty of decisions, arrows, and results.
  • Be as creative as you'd like: feel free to include colours, graphics, fonts, etc.
  • How do you make a flowchart? You have many options:
  • Once you have completed your flowchart, upload it as an image file to this unit as evidence of your learning.
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