Early education is all about creating a foundation for future learning. Since there has
been formal education, it has been accepted that the 3R’s (Reading, wRiting, and
“aRithmetic) were key skills. This served us well for over 100 years, but are they enough
to serve students growing up in a digital age? Maybe it’s time for our definition of
foundational skills to expand. From artificial intelligence to virtual reality digital,
technology is becoming more embedded in our everyday lives. Our students need to be
taught how to create with technology, not just use it. Armed with this digital foundation,
kids will have the skills they need to leverage computers to tackle the problems they are
sure to face, from daily tasks to success in school and work to changing the world.

So, does that mean all kids should learn to code? Well yes, but that’s just one piece of
the puzzle. Before you can code, you have to understand how computers ‘think’. This is
similar to the way you need to understand how letters form words to convey ideas, as
the foundation to reading. Computational thinking is the process of breaking down a
problem so a computer can be used to solve it. The four components of computational
thinking are decomposition (breaking it down), pattern recognition, abstraction
(removing unnecessary details), and algorithmic (step-by-step) thinking. Coding is a
great way to teach algorithmic thinking, but we need a curriculum that goes beyond
coding to teach all the components of computational thinking.

In my job as a STEM director, I see many coding programs for kids. However, I didn’t
come across anything that addressed all the aspects of computational thinking for early
learners. Out of this need, I created CompuTales.

screenshot showing activities that children can freely engage in on the CompuTales platform

The idea for CompuTales came from my experience as a dad. Reading stories to my son at bedtime was one of our favorite
activities. I thought, “What if I could use stories to teach kids about computational
thinking?” But more than a paper book, I also wanted to include interactive puzzles that
would reinforce each computational topic. All of the puzzles were designed within the
context of the story to keep the learner engaged. Because learning is better in context,
literacy activities that reinforce the computational thinking topics were also woven into
each chapter and topic.

CompuTales is available for free to any parent or teacher, with unlimited student
accounts. There is an optional student workbook available for purchase that reinforces
the computational topics as the reader progresses through each chapter of the story. By
blending digital and hands-on learning, outcomes are improved for early learners.

About the contributor:

Jeff Marx has worked 25 years in education and is currently the director of computer science and robotics for Dallas ISD and the creator of CompuTales. When not working on web apps, he enjoys staying active bike riding, playing tennis, and swimming.

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About the Founder & CEO

Dr. Koshi Dhingra has dedicated her career to STEM education and is passionate about having every child live up to their potential. Seeing a lack of girls and other underrepresented youth in STEM programs, she founded talkSTEM in 2015 to address the imbalance. She has a doctorate in science education from Teachers College, Columbia University, has years of experience teaching in graduate and undergraduate programs, and has held leadership roles in universities. She advises and collaborates with a broad range of educational institutions globally. Dr. Dhingra began her career teaching science in middle and high school in New York. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband, three children, and two dogs.


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