Maynooth University Launches Computational Thinking Initiative for Secondary Schools

The PACT programme is a partnership between researchers in Maynooth University 's Department of Computer Science and teachers at selected post primary schools around the country.  Initially the focus is on teaching programming to transition year students, but ultimately the goal is to move beyond programming and algorithms towards computational thinking for the Junior Certificate cycle. Starting September 2013 a number of Irish secondary schools are taking part in a pilot study of the new “Computational Thinking” Transition Year module .

Computational Thinking is about combining the creativity of human thinking with the power of computing machines to solve problems across a range of disciplines. It is a core skill which is crucial to many 21st century careers, not just in information technology, but also physics, finance, engineering and bioinformatics. As well as learning how to program in Python, Transition Year students taking this module learn how to apply their knowledge to model real-world problems. The focus of the module is not on learning facts about computers but on developing creative ideas and new ways of thinking.

The Computer Science department in Maynooth University, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, has collaborated with teachers across 9 secondary schools to develop a flexible module which will engage Transition Year students. Continuing feedback will be used to expand the module into a full Junior Cycle short course from 2014. If you think your school might be interested in delivering a course in Computational Thinking either at Junior Cycle or in Transition Year you can contact the Maynooth University team at pact@cs.nuim.ie.