Q5 Algorithm

21. Computational Thinking

Joe walks into a kitchen where Lila is starting to bake a cake.

Lila-Oh, hey Joe!

Joe-What’s happening, Lila?  

Lila-I was just about to get going on my latest algorithm.

Joe-That sounds confusing!

Lila-Actually it is not confusing at all.  An algorithm is just a list of steps to solve a problem.  Today my algorithm is “How to bake a cake”

Joe-Ah, that doesn’t sound too bad I suppose.

Lila-It’s not bad at all, but if you do not follow these steps in order, iit could end in disaster.  For instance, if you tried to bake the cake before you mixed the ingredients together, or put the batter in the pan and then try to grease the pan, the outcome would not turn out like you wanted it to.

Joe-Makes sense to me!

Lila-Do you want to help me follow my algorithm?

Joe-Um, how about I just try out the results?

Lila-Rolls her eyes and gets started


In this Quest, you will work to understand what an algorithm is by completing a card sorting activity from

I Can Statement

  • create an algorithm for a complex problem


Algorithm: An algorithm is a detailed step-by-step instruction set or formula for solving a problem or completing a task.

Complex problem: Complex problems are questions or issues that cannot be answered through simple logical procedures. 


1. For this activity, you will need a partner.  

2. You will be given 10 cards, face down in a stack between you and your partner.

deck of cards

3. Do not touch the cards until instructed to do so.

4. No Talking during the challenge

5. The goal is to get the cards in a line, face up, in number order as fast as you can.

6. After completing that card sorting activity, you and your partner should complete this activity from to learn more about creating an algorithm for sorting cards. 

  • One of you needs to make a copy of the activity and share with your partner and the teacher. 
  • Complete the steps and reflection in the card sorting activity. 

7. Now that you understand what an algorithm is, you will need to revisit your complex problem and write the steps that are needed to solve it. 

8. Go to your Google Doc, fill in the steps and let your teacher know when you have completed them. 

Completing this Quest

To complete this Quest turn in your algorithm activity from to your teacher (via Google Drive, OneDrive, etc.). Then complete the steps for your complex problem and share with your teacher when it is completed. 

Additional Resources

ISTE and Common Core Standards

ISTE Standards•S

5. Computational Thinker
a. formulate problem definitions suited for technology-assisted methods such as data analysis, abstract models and algorithmic thinking in exploring and finding solutions.
b. collect data or identify relevant data sets, use digital tools to analyze them, and represent data in various ways to facilitate problem-solving and decision-making.
c. break problems into component parts, extract key information, and develop descriptive models to understand complex systems or facilitate problem-solving.
d. understand how automation works and use algorithmic thinking to develop a sequence of steps to create and test automated solutions.