Can you think of an algorithm for walking around the outside of a square?

# Algorithms - An Introduction

This quiz addresses part of the requirements of the National Curriculum KS1 for children aged 5 and 6 in years 1 and 2 in Computing. Specifically it is an introduction to algorithms, giving a definition of the term and some simple examples. It is one of 20 quizzes to help you find out about how computers work, and how they affect all our lives.

Computers are machines. They use electricity to make decisions. Computers have to be designed and built. Then when they are built, they have to be told what to do. That’s where algorithms come in. Algorithm is a hard word to say, and a hard word to spell! The definition of an algorithm is a list of steps to solve a problem or to get something done.

1. Luke writes an algorithm just for brushing his teeth. Which one of these steps does he write down first?
Luke needs to open the tube of toothpaste before he can put some on his brush
2. Which one of these is an algorithm?
This algorithm is just like the one with the big red square
3. Connor is writing down a simple algorithm. He writes down all the steps. The steps must be:
If the steps are in the wrong order, the algorithm will not work
4. Luke thinks about getting up in a morning. He writes an algorithm. Luke writes down the steps, one by one.

The first step he writes down is: ‘Wake up’. What is the next step?
All the steps in an algorithm have to be in the right order
5. Computers can be told how to do sums. Which one of these is a sum?
Computers can be told how to add up, take away, multiply, and divide
6. Computers need algorithms to work. They need to be told the steps to make things happen.

An algorithm is like a list of instructions. But it’s not just computers that need instructions. We do, too.

Which one of these everyday examples is an algorithm?
The recipe is a list of instructions to make the cake
7. Which one of these spellings is correct?
It’s not easy! Try writing it out
8. Algorithms help us to solve problems or get things done. Algorithms are a list of _____.
Codes come later
9. How do you write an algorithm?
It’s really good to write stories and poems, but it’s also good to be able to write algorithms
10. There is a big red square painted on the school playground. Mrs Smith is a teacher. She takes her class out to the playground. Mrs Smith gives instructions about how to walk once round the big red square.

Mrs Smith asks Alice to stand at one corner of the big red square. Mrs Smith tells Alice to walk to the next corner of the square. She then tells Alice to turn right.

What is Mrs Smith’s next instruction to Alice?
Can you write down an algorithm for walking once round the big red square?

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