Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Nutcracker? No, I meant Codecracker

Where else can you celebrate CS week, ring in the holiday season, and incorporate bubble sort into a dance performance?  Watch this video to find out...
Code and dance? No problem!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Just App it!

One big thing I've been working on this year is to try to get more middle school girls interested in STEM.  The representation of women in STEM fields and, in the field of computer science in particular, have been well publicized. Even locally here in the state of Arizona at our large public state university, Arizona State University, less than 20% percent of the engineering majors are female. Organizations such as NCWIT and Girls who Code are working to increase the 12% representation of women in the field of computer programming.  Here in my district, I have had my middle school girls working with high school and college girls via telepresence to create apps using App Inventor and to learn some basics of html and Python.  It has been an empowering experience for them and they have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of creating using code.  Perhaps just as important as the app inventing and coding my students have learned, if not more important, is the invaluable experience they have had of being mentored by girls who are into computer science and its applications.  Here is a video from the app inventing middle school girls group where they share the highlights of their experience.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Red Planet Research

Look anywhere in the news lately, and you'll see that Mars is making a comeback.  There's the MRO and the recent Comet Siding Spring that made a close flyby of the red planet.  The India Space Research Organization has also recently launched their very own Mars orbiter.  So when I found out about the Mars Student Imaging Program out of Arizona State University, I thought to myself that this would be a great opportunity for my students to pursue their passion for exploring and researching space.   Completely student-driven inquiry tied in with authentic research and feedback from a planetary geologist - what could be better than this?  Plus, all culminating in two days at ASU on the campus working with the geologist and collecting their very own image from the THEMIS camera.  But, before the two-day culmination on campus, we had a big learning curve.  We had to first learn about Martian geology and learn about the features on this planet.  We also had to familiarize ourselves with the instruments used to collect images and data as well as the JMARS database.  In many ways, it was like learning about a whole new world and learning a foreign language.  But at the same time, it was also about taking what we know about our planet Earth and making connections and comparisons to what we already know and extending it to what we do not know.

Probably the most challenging part of the process was identifying our inquiry/research question.  With a group of 20 students and diverse interests, we had questions ranging from the craters to Olympus Mons to the Valles Marineris.  We ended up consulting with ASU and the planetary geologist who then gave us feedback and insight on our possible questions.  In the document attached, you will see not only our final question, but the research that accompanies it.  As you can tell, the process was full of reading, writing, researching, note-taking, summarizing, making inferences, drawing conclusions, collecting data, analyzing data...Wow.  What an amazing journey.  We have yet to experience our two days in person with scientists at ASU and I'm sure that will bring even more stories to tell.  
Here is the link to our research on Valles Marineris, the largest canyon in the solar system discovered so far.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

App, app and away..

Earlier this school year, I found out about the Verizon Innovative App Challenge, a competition open to middle- and high-school students where they innovate an app concept.  I really liked the word 'innovate' because the challenge made the point that the app concept that the students come up with need not necessarily be something entirely new, but something based on existing ideas...with added twists.  My students first had to identify a problem in their local community in one of the Verizon Foundation focus areas:  healthcare, sustainability or education.  They then had to research this problem and come up with an innovative app idea that could help to address this problem.  Not only so, they had to research other similar existing apps and clearly articulate how their app was distinct.  In writing the responses for the competition, they reflected on not only their research, but also on the form and function of their app.  They got to dream big!  Using Scratch, they created a prototype design of their app and created a 3 minute video to submit as part of the application.  So many skills were integrated into this one project - writing, research, reading, collaboration, communication, coding, math, technology, video production, script-writing, performance...the list goes on.
Here is their video submission presenting their innovative app concept.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

"Don't be bored…make something."

"Don't be bored…make something."  These words were spoken by Joey Hudy, the youngest intern in the history of Intel who at the age of 16 was hired by their CEO, at the Higher Education Maker Summit at ASU-Tech Shop in Chandler, AZ.  It was inspiring to hear from all maker-engineers, maker-musicians, maker-designers, maker-authors, and who I will call maker-evangelists at this national event.

What was neat was that this conference coincided with the last session of the first part of a STEAM Machines club I started at my school made possible through a generous grant from ASU that included $3000.00 worth of 'maker' supplies for middle schoolers to dream, create, and iterate Rube Goldberg machines. The whole experience from start to finish was full of 21st century skills in action with teams of students collaborating and communicating to create their machines, solving problems through critical thinking and application of physics concepts all along the way.

Most rewarding was to see what they had to say when asked:

As a result of attending this club, what is one thing you learned that helped you?
"Planning before doing."
"Planning before doing/making."
"I learned about machines.  It will help me if I want an engineering job."
"How to teamwork."  (LOVE how this student made 'teamwork' into a verb!)
"How to make electrical circuits."
"Making stuff is difficult but rewarding."

Why would you want to work in a team instead of by yourself?
"More people could get more done."
"Because they help others."
"In a team you get more work done."
"Everyone has different skills."

Finally, probably my favorite:

How are you planning to apply what you have learned in this club?
"To make stuff at home."

Why is this my favorite?  Because this is what I strive for as an educator - for students to make that transfer from learning in school to continuing the learning, experimenting, making outside of school.
Make on!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

It's Time for Genius

A few weeks ago I introduced genius hour into my class.  Here's a quick introduction:

My rationale for bringing this into my classroom is really founded on my beliefs that students come to me with ideas and questions.   They come with ideas for solutions to problems that they face in their lives and I wanted to give them the opportunity to explore these.  They started with describing a problem that they want to solve or a question they want to investigate.  Following this, they brainstormed possible solutions by sketching, writing, and doodling.  It was amazing to see their ideas take form and to hear about topics that matter to them.  One wants to come up with a jacket that makes you feel warm as soon as you put it on.  Several want to investigate ways to tackle Ebola.  Another set off exploring ways to package waffles and syrup on the go.  Yet another researched thorium as a new source of energy.

The next step was for them to investigate what has already been done in their areas of interest.  They did this by going to Google patent search as a springboard to further develop their background and innovation.  This in turn led them to deeper investigation with some heading into material science and even chemistry.  More updates on genius middle schoolers yet to come…they may just join the ranks of these 8 who have changed the world.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Coding for Kindergartners

Now that my students have had some great experiences with Scratch through debugging, creating debug-its and games, I thought it was time for them to have some authentic experiences connected to what computer programmers may do in the 'real-world.'  I immediately thought of how in any design field, be it architecture or software, the designer must create with the client's needs in mind.  These are the constraints, so to speak.  In other words, a house in the Philippines will have different features than a house in Seattle, Washington even though similar tools may be used to build and design both homes.  The same thing with programming.  The finished product will be very different, depending on the what the client or use wants and needs.  I had my students design something for a kindergarten teacher in my district.  She requested that they create an animation of a popular children's book in time for Halloween (note: real-world = timeframes and real deadlines!).  They used Scratch and drew their own costumes and animated the story with the text.  This experience inspired them and motivated them on a completely different level than a class task normally would.
Animated story created for kindergarten class

After creating the animation, we then called not only their class, but also a class of first and second graders to share the creation with them via telepresence.  This kind of experience really brought in a sense of purpose so my students' creating that was full of impact.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

Google CS-First

I was searching for resources to teach computer science just over a month ago and came across this site - Google CSFirst.  Not really knowing what it was, I went ahead and registered my school and an advocate, volunteer and guru...all at the same time.  All I know is that I will do anything to inspire my students to grow and learn in all areas, but in particular, those with a STEM focus.  It turns out that Google CSFirst, with its club framework as a way to introduce 4th -8th grade students to coding and computer science, is a fantastic way to do just this.

I then go ahead and order a loaner set of headphones along with the peripheral materials offered on the site.  Within a week or two, my materials arrived and I was so impressed!  The support that Google CSFirst has provided along the way to implementation has been tremendous. There were student passports, sticker-badges, detailed scripted directions, certificates of completion and even post-it notes.  Every detail was thought out and planned for which made it really easy to implement with my students.

The teacher dashboard comes with an agenda timer to keep the sessions on track and to remind me as the teacher host about the pacing.  One of my favorite parts about the program is the showcase time where projects get shown to the class and we all celebrate learning together.

The club format is an ideal way to introduce students of all walks of life to coding through engaging themes such as "Game Design," "Sound and Music," and "Storytelling."  In a safe and fun environment, yet at the same time full of challenging and engaging activities, students are truly learning by doing.  In my mind, there is no better way for them to be introduced to, and more importantly, catch the 'coding bug.'

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Scratching away

This school year has brought new and interesting experiences.  I have been piloting new initiatives such as Google CS-First and ASU's STEAM Machines Club, both made possible due to generous support and a grant.  More on the STEAM Machines Club later.

As a recent assignment, I asked my middle school students to work on a debug-it challenge:
Scratch Debug-it


___/3_ I have completed at least 3 Scratch Debug-its from 'Scratch,' ‘Superwhy’ and/or ‘Mak’s Debuggers’ studios.

___/1__  I have created one debug-it challenge.

____/1_  At least one other student has solved my debug-it.

_____  I have posted my debug-it challenge to ‘Mak’s Debuggers.’

____/10_ I have completed a reflection on my Scratch debugging experience that includes:
-what was challenging about debugging
-what was interesting about debugging
-lessons you learned about debugging
-how debugging relates to coding

-any additional ideas or inspiration

What made this experience interesting was that I am now doing this after a year into our district's coding initiative that really spread after the 'Hour of Code.'  As a result, I have a wide range of levels in my classes all the way from experienced Scratchers (Scratch Ninjas) to beginners.  The most interesting observation I have is that debug-its have valuable lessons for all students, regardless of background in Scratch.  

In the words of Scratch expert:

"The hardest part about debugging the codes was finding the right functions to solve each problem. The most interesting part of debugging was figuring out what functions were required to solve each problem.  While debugging, I learned that there are multiple ways to solve each problem, and some problems may be way harder than others. Debugging relates to coding because code is what is debugged. Without code, you can not debugged anything because after all, there would be nothing to code. The project has inspired me to create a big project because now, i know how to fix any problems I come across."

And, in the words of a Scratch novice:

"The challenging thing about scratch debug it, is that when you think you're finished fixing something, you have to go back and check and then you realise that you're really not finished. The reason is because it was truly more complicated than you though, and you must make it work, finishing the debug after you make more edits.

An interesting thing that I learned in scratch debugging, is that it is not as simple as it looks, and it really involves a lot of work to complete, and repeating and duplicating codes. Also you can make things more creative by debugging than they were to start.

I learned a couple of things about debugging. The first thing that i learned is that, when it comes to debugging no matter how frustrated or angry you are if you don’t give up, you can still successfully finish the debug. The second and final thing, even though it is relative to the first one is if you mess up the whole thing, challenge yourself and see if you can make things work out in the end.

Debugging relates to coding, in one way, which i that, just like in coding you still drag and drop commands to make actions happen. Your also still coding in a way because you're using code to fix a coded error.

Yes I have one extra idea that I would like to share, which is that if scratch had more word coding, and less drag and drop coding, then I feel that things would be bigger, more productive, and quicker."

Monday, August 18, 2014

Marshmallow Challenge

With a new school year comes new students who have not had a chance to meet one another, much less work together.  In order to build a community of learners who are ready to communicate, collaborate and work together productively to solve problems, it is critical to provide them with opportunities to do so.  This is where the marshmallow challenge comes in.  Learn more about it here:
So, I had my students take the challenge.  I started by creating the 'challenge brief' in the form of a short video with a 007 theme, created using Powtoon:
The emphasis was really on applying the engineering-design process which my classes explored last week to this hands-on challenge.  It was great to see the conversations and iterations as well as teams not content for their tower to stand at 45 cm and work to increase the height of it.  Pictures are here from the plan to build phases.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Google CS First

Click here to learn more about Google CS First, an amazing opportunity for students in grades 4-8 to learn and do computer science.  All the information is provided to be successful is included and they are even networking and connecting volunteers in the community to help out with the student computer science clubs.  Just signed up for my school.  Excited to see where this will go!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Learning by Doing, part 2

Next major stop was two weeks spent on the beautiful (yes, beautiful) campus of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX.  Turns out it is the second largest campus in the United States, second only to the Air Force Academy due to its runways.  This is where I met with my cohort and professors to finish up summer coursework.  The highlight was a project-based learning course - again, learning by doing.  The best part was getting into the research and history of PBL as well as refining the practice side of it.  Starting with the launch activity, and continuing with driving questions and need to knows. we were all immersed into the world of PBL and learning from the literature, but also from one another.

Here is the link to the Buck Institute for Education's YouTube channel full of amazing resources to get started, dig deeper, or learn from practitioners.

I am reminded of another quote by Dewey that continues to guide me as an educator:

“The belief that all genuine education comes about through experience does not mean that all experiences are genuinely or equally educative.”  
Continuing my quest to seek "genuinelyeducative" learning experiences for my students!
Texas Tech University seal - main entrance, night view
Probably my favorite sculpture on campus - tower of controversial books throughout history
It is said that people are supposed to come here and carry on an intellectual debate about the books depicted in the sculpture.

Learning by Doing, part 1

It's been a busy summer full of learning by doing, to quote John Dewey.  I started off with presenting at a STEM club conference in Phoenix, AZ on computational thinking, creativity, and PBL integrating technology such as coding and 3D printing.  It still amazes me when I see where we are in education now and what my third and fourth graders are doing.  Truly creativity and collaboration in action and a reminder that:  “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.”  John Dewey
It is great that organizations within the state such as Helios Education Foundation working together with businesses and educators to bridge the STEM gap.  STEM clubs are a great way to directly impact the lives and futures of our students. 

From Phoenix, I spent living for two weeks at the Biosphere 2 (B2) in Oracle, AZ attending an APS-sponsored educator workshop where we lived, breathed, and did STEM.  We truly learned by doing.  Integrating field research techniques such as transects and measuring the transpiration of leaves, we conducted group research in the mangrove forests of the B2, ending with a poster presentation to administrators, University of Arizona faculty and other member of the community.  This was truly problem-based learning in action and a time to forge life-long colleagues and friends from districts throughout Arizona as well as to learn from leading experts and researchers in all STEM disciplines.
Research in the lab
Top Left:  Ocean biome in B2 (70,000 gallons of Pacific Ocean water); Top Right: Rainforest; Bottom Left: Savanna; Bottom Right:  Desert

Thursday, June 5, 2014


Throughout this school year, my class has been using telepresence to connect with Ari, a student at University of Arizona majoring in Russian.  He has been giving weekly sessions on various aspects of Russian culture, politics, current events, and history.  These have been so inspiring, in fact, that one of my students' companies that called themselves Sug-Art (3D sculptures printed from sugar), decided they wanted to create a prototype of a sugar sculpture modeled after one of Russia's most beloved animated characters - Cheburashka.  This was the biggest challenge so far for my students to design on Tinkercad.  The big ears that stick out to the side were giving them issues...

We attempted a total of 11 versions before we finally got Cheburyashka just right.  So many lessons learned along the way and nuances in using Tinkercad.  In the world of education where it seems like things are black and white, right and wrong, it is so refreshing to inspire in my students a spirit of entrepreneurship and creativity where it is okay if things don't work out the first time....or the second time...because it is all about what we learn along the way.  This is perseverance in action.

Here is the final version
Here is the problem-ear

Sweet Sculptures

Another student company idea got their inspiration from one that 3D prints edible sugar cake toppers.  They called themselves "Sug-Art" and set off to create a company that custom creates sugar sculptures.  In doing so, they had a lot of research and cost analysis to do.  What better way to do research than to write to the company from whom they got their inspiration?  We got their contact information from their site:

What started out as a quest to use 3D printing in meaningful ways in the classroom has led to interdisciplinary, authentic inquiry.

Here is the students' request for information:

Dear Ms. Vonhasseln,  

We are third graders in Phoenix, AZ.  We are working on coming up with a business idea as a school project and am interested in your technology for creating sugar art.  We are wondering about what type of machine you use, where and how much the sugar floss costs, and what it would cost to buy a 3D sugar printer.  Also, is the process for printing 3D sugar art the same as for printing 3D objects using plastic filament?  

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.  We look forward to learning from you and hearing back from you soon.



The response:

Thanks for your interest in our work! This sounds like an awesome project you're working on!

We use 3D printers made by 3D Systems, called the ChefJet and ChefJet Pro. These printers are only prototypes at this time, but they will both be released to market later this year. Here's the press release. The ChefJet is monochrome (it produces parts the color of the material) and will cost roughly $5,000. The ChefJet Pro is full CMYK color, with a larger build-bed (you can print larger objects, or a larger quantity of smaller objects) and will cost roughly $10,000. 

As for the material you use with these printers, it's actually not a filament. The ChefJet printers use a different kind of 3D printing technology than plastic extrusion printers do, but instead use CJP (Color Jet Printing) technology. Unfortunately the pricing for the ChefJet materials has not yet been determined, but for the purposes of your project, you could research the cost of granulated sugar. You would need enough to fill a 10x12x12" bin (ChefJet) or 16x14x10" bin (ChefJet Pro). 

You can find a folder of images of our work here, as well as a document with some information about what we do and how we originally got started. I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any more questions! 


Liz von Hasseln, M. Architecture | Creative Director Food Products
The Sugar Lab | 3470 Plata St. | Los Angeles, CA 90026

Saturday, May 24, 2014

More iteration and production...

Last time, I shared about Untangled and how my students created, designed and printed a device to untie shoelaces.  They redesigned it based on timed trials and made it thinner, even adding an 'ergonomic' handle to it.  While the original was too thick and cumbersome, the redesign was too thin and flimsy.  In the meantime, however, they retimed themselves using the redesign and halved the amount of time it took them to untie difficult-to-undo double-knotted laces.  Not too bad...

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Iteration in Process

The student 'companies' in my class have begun working on the product development process.  They have designed and printed their company logos in 3D and now are working on their actual products.  One of the companies called themselves "Untangled" and specialize in gadgets to help with untying those difficult to undo double-knotted laces.  They designed a printed a hook, but it was too flimsy and thin.  They then redesigned their hook on Tinkercad and thickened it all around, printed it again on the Makerbot Replicator 2 and tried it out.  I then recorded the students trying out the new tool after which we discussed what they might need to change in the next 'version' or iteration of the 'untangler.'  

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Future Entrepreneurs

Our student 'companies' have been formed and students applied for positions such as President and VPs of Design, Manufacturing and Finance.  I have been using this website to pull articles for my students to read and learn about aspects of starting a company such as naming their company and creating their logo.  We studied a variety of company's logos to see trends, patterns, and colors.  They then worked on designing their own company logo initially through sketching and then in 3D on Tinkercad.  The product ideas have been incredible.  One company is creating a tool to undo too-tightly-tied shoelaces and called their company 'Untangled.'  Another is working on candy sugar sculptures and dub themselves 'Sugart.'  One is working on creating ways to carry i-devices AND other belongings and call themselves 'I-Keep.'

The process of 3D design has been interesting.  It hasn't been as easy as we thought to transfer ideas to a new way of viewing the world.  In the case of I-Keep, the students struggled with the idea of how to make the backpack attach to the letter 'I' until one of them came in and thought of attaching a ring through the spherical 'backpack' and connecting it to the 'I.'

Student company logo souvenir

It's been incredible to see just how our ideas can come to life with technology.  Innovation is possible on a completely different level.

Student logo souvenirs printing two at a time on Makerbot Replicator 2

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Celebrating Students is highlighting students who are changing the world by coding and this week, one of my students was honored as their "Student of the Week."  His interview and links to his apps and creations can be seen at this link.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Oh, the things you can make!

We started this week with our new project-based learning unit with the driving question:  What makes businesses successful and innovative?  Along with this, we'll be diving into the entrepreneurial cycle, innovation, and much more.  Integral to all of this is students working in 'companies' to create and design a new product, protoyping it using a 3D printer, the Makerbot Replicator.  To introduce the whole concept of innovation, I had the students brainstorm the differences and similarities between innovating and inventing.  So interesting - one student responded with an analogy - "Well, inventing is like creating a program in Scratch and innovating is like remixing someone else's program."

I then showed them two short videos to review how Makerbot replicator and digitizer works and had them write the steps down - practice functional text applications.

After this, I showed them three videos from Makerbot's site about explorers who have used it to invent, create, refine, and benefit humanity.  We talked about how people collaborated from different continents to create.  How Makerbot facilitates the design process.  How it is so easy to 'tweak,' 'remix,' and try out new versions of the same design.  How they used Makerbot to solve problems and create solutions.  How they are inspired to do the same in their lives.  One student came up to me after class and asked me how much a Makerbot cost because she wants to print prosthetic legs for a family friend who lost limbs in a war.  In the words of one my students, "Makerbot is the door to opportunity."

Friday, March 7, 2014

Algorithms Here, Algorithms there...

Math this week has taken a computational thinking (CT) twist to it.  We started a series of topics in math that I thought would be powerful if we could apply CT skills to all of these scenarios.  We started with multiplication of fractions.  I had students set up an array of 12 like this:


I had them then circle to show 2/3 of 12 and record the answer.  We connected this to Math Practices - model with mathematics.  I had them then extend to show 4/6 of or x 12, 3/6 x 12, 5/6 x 12, 1/6 x 12, 1/4 x 12, 3/4 x 12, 1/3 x 12 with the corresponding answers.  Based on this list of equations, the students were to test out various algorithms until they found a 'set of directions' that would work all the time when multiplying fractions.  This is Math Practice 8:  Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning and 7:  Look for and make use of structure.

The interesting thing is that as soon as I gave the directions for this task, the classroom transformed into an environment very similar to when we are debugging and coding.  Students were working together, discussing various options, testing out possible solutions and finally selecting an algorithm they believed would work.  Many had to go back to redraft their algorithm to either make the language more specific or to make it more universal.  This was a challenging task and definitely required perseverance (Math Practice 1 - Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them), but so worthwhile in so many ways.  One big takeaway is that the math classroom suddenly takes on more of a 'lab' and exploring environment where the 'right' answer does not come right away and does not come in only one form.  There are multiple ways to express the thinking and students learned it is okay to make "mistakes" because these are what actually help them reach the goal.

One student example:
"My rule is that you divide the denominator by the whole number (12), then you multiply the quotient by the numerator to get the product.  For example, 5/6 x 12 = 12 divided by 6 = 2, then 2 x5 = 10 and when you look, you see that I got 10!"

I then had the students compare searching for the 'just right' algorithm in math and in coding...

"When you make an algorithm for math, it is similar to coding algorithms.  For example, when you make an algorithm for coding, you need to test it out and make sure it works.  Same with math.  You need to test your algorithm to make sure it works.  Also, when your algorithm is not right, you need to keep trying to make sure it works for everything...[and] they're both fun!"

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Last night, I had the privilege of attending the award banquet for NCWIT aspirations in computing award winners.  24 high school girls were awarded at ASU in the Memorial Union Ballroom for their accomplishments and aspirations to change the world through computing.  Many have been active at their schools involved in engineering clubs, robotics, and computing classes and aspire to lead a tech company, find a  cure for pancreatic cancer, and study engineering management.  ASU faculty and NCWIT representatives were there to encourage the girls to pursue computer science no matter what they eventually decide to do.  I was there with Daisy, a student I taught when she was in 5th grade.  She was on the first robotics team I started and continues to compete at the high school level.  I continue to be inspired by her and many others to bring computing to the next generation of girls.

One of the speeches by ASU faculty highlighted the fact that many of the early pioneers and current technology leaders were and are women.  Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, and many more.  The student awardees were encouraged to continue the line of women in computer science.

Here is an inspiring video on how girls break through stereotypes in computer science.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

CT x 2

Some define computational thinking in 4 parts and that is how I started my students with computational thinking - decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction, and algorithms.  There are two other ways of thinking about computational thinking.  One is the one from MIT media lab (Creative Computing) that sees computational thinking composed of computational concepts (sequence, loops, parallelism, events, conditionals, operations, and data - which by the way looks a lot like the Scratch menu), computational practices (being iterative, testing and debugging, reusing and remixing, abstracting and modularizing) and computational perspectives (expressing, connecting, questioning).  This is the framework I have been using to guide my students on their journey into coding.

The other definition is the one that had me stumped for a while - it's the one on ISTE's site, with input from CSTA and it is seems simple, at least on the surface:

Critical Thinking + Computing Power = Ability to make decisions and innovate solutions

I have been thinking about this one for a while and considering how to bring it to 3-4 graders.  It came to me recently that I needed to go back to a few workshops I used to start out the school year on critical thinking and intellectual standards (being clear, accurate, relevant, logical, and fair).  We had a class discussion about what computing power might look like with critical thinking and why the critical thinking piece is needed to make decisions and innovate solutions that help humanity and make the world a better place.  There are many brilliant people who use computing power to further selfish motives, but that is not using critical thinking with computing power to make wise and fair decisions while innovating solutions.

Here are some thoughts from my students after our discussion:

"Intellectual standards are important when computing power, making decisions, and innovating solutions.  When making decisions, you need to think, "Am I being clear, accurate, relevant, logical, and fair?"  You need to consider others and how your decision will affect them.  When innovating solutions, you need to think the same question.  When you have computing power, you need to use Intellectual Standards to decide how you are going to use it."

"I think critical thinking is important because it helps a lot of people do things.  To be a critical thinker, you have to have Intellectual Standards - be clear, be accurate, be relevant, be logical, be fair.  When you are making decisions, you have to have intellectual standards.  With the intellectual standards, you have to make sure you are making the right choice.  You also have computing power when making decisions.  You also have to use intellectual standards and computing power to innovate solutions.  That includes thinking:  "Should I be doing this?  Am I doing this correctly?  Will it work and can I improve upon this?"  Having intellectual standards, computing power, and being a critical thinker will really come in handy later on."

"Critical thinking is involved with computational thinking because it takes the qualities of critical thinking to be able to understand computational thinking.  Also, it takes computational thinking to make decisions and innovate solutions.  If you are not accurate, something could go wrong.  If you are not clear, someone may do the wrong think because of your instructions.  You have to be logical because you might crash your systems instead of solving a problem.  If you are not relevant then you could solve the wrong problem.  You have to be fair in distributing work, otherwise people will be angry."

"To be a computational thinker means that you break problems down and that you are fair to people.  Ask:  What is the outcome of this?  This will help you be logical.  Computational thinking helps the world become a better place."

"Critical thinking gets you your idea and computing power helps you with it.  Putting them together helps you make decisions and make solutions.  Critical thinking helps you answer a problem accurately, state your answer, and basically help you revise."

"Critical thinking is important because you are not only fair to one another and public, but you are making decisions correctly.  You also make solutions to your problems.  You think about others when using critical thinking and computing power; not just yourself.  A problem is that many houses do not have safe security that makes sense.  Sometimes, this is a problem in not only your house, but in the mall, an apartment, a hotel, and many other places."