Algorithms - An Introduction
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.

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?
A cake recipe
Loud music
Bright colours
A poem
The recipe is a list of instructions to make the cake
Algorithms help us to solve problems or get things done. Algorithms are a list of _____.
Codes come later
How do you write an algorithm?
As a story
One step at a time
As a poem
In any order
It’s really good to write stories and poems, but it’s also good to be able to write algorithms
Computers can be told how to do sums. Which one of these is a sum?
Colouring a picture
Adding up tens and units
Writing a story
Running round the playground
Computers can be told how to add up, take away, multiply, and divide
Which one of these is an algorithm?
Telling a robot how to walk once round a square
Giving a robot a name
Watching a robot
Listening to a robot
This algorithm is just like the one with the big red square
Luke writes an algorithm just for brushing his teeth. Which one of these steps does he write down first?
Spit out
Rinse with cold water
Brush teeth
Open toothpaste
Luke needs to open the tube of toothpaste before he can put some on his brush
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?
Walk backwards
Turn right
Turn left
Walk to the next corner
Can you write down an algorithm for walking once round the big red square?
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?
Brush teeth
Put on clothes
Have shower
Get out of bed
All the steps in an algorithm have to be in the right order
Connor is writing down a simple algorithm. He writes down all the steps. The steps must be:
In the wrong order
All jumbled up
In the right order
If the steps are in the wrong order, the algorithm will not work
Which one of these spellings is correct?
It’s not easy! Try writing it out
You can find more about this topic by visiting BBC Bitesize - What is an algorithm?

Author:  David Bland

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