Bebras looks like a great way to teach computational thinking

bebras beaverBebras is an international initiative whose goal is to promote Informatics and Computational Thinking among teachers and pupils of all ages. Bebras does this through easily accessible and highly motivating online contests. In Australia, Bebras is run by NICTA under the Digital Careers program; and it is aligned with, and supports, the new Australian Digital Technologies Curriculum.

The challenges are made of a set of short questions called Bebras tasks and are delivered via the cloud. The tasks can be answered without prior knowledge about computational thinking, but are clearly related to computational thinking concepts.These tasks can be answered without prior knowledge about Informatics, but are clearly related to Informatics concepts. Working alone or in teams, students need to solve those tasks, pupils are required to think in and about information, discrete structures, computation, data processing, but they also must use algorithmic concepts. Each Bebras task can both demonstrate an aspect of computational thinking and test the talent of the participant, regarding Informatics.

bebras taskThe picture to the right shows a sample problem aimed at Years 3-4. The Australian Bebras website has many more samples.

Bebras seems to be a very engaging and approachable way to address the requirements of the Australian Digital Technologies Curriculum. While it looks useful for everyone, the problem-solving nature of the tasks might make it especially attractive for teachers who don’t have a depth of computing or programming background or who have limited access to computers: there’s no prior computing or ICT knowledge required.

Bebras is free and is designed around a school period of 45-60 minutes. There are five categories covering year 3-12.

Teachers wishing to run a Bebras program in Term 4, or any other time, can get more information from the Bebras website.

One thought on “Bebras looks like a great way to teach computational thinking

  • October 2, 2014 at 2:33 pm
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    Hi GeekinSydney,

    John here from the Digital Careers program (Bebras coordinators for Australia) – we definitely feel that computational thinking is a strong entry point for teachers interested in introducing classrooms to concepts of logic, pattern recognition, abstraction etc and ultimately head into the coding world. We’ve just had some 7,000 students around Australia take part in the Bebras Challenge and think the initiatives like this – alongside those of CodeClub, CoderDojo, Code.org etc are introducing a new set of tools into the classroom.

    If anyone is keen to find out more they can either visit the bebras.edu.au website (or contact me via the digitalcareers.edu.au site or on twitter: @digicareersau)

    cheers

    J

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