In the UK we are also asked to include computing across the curriculum, in the same way that we are asked to include literacy and numeracy across the curriculum ( spelling, punctuation, grammar, reading, graphs, correct use of arithmetic and mathematical concepts).

Teachers often deal with this by doing a lesson in the computer room, using MS-Word; Using I-Pads, or searching for stuff with Google. This is the “we have to use a computer” panic. But it is not very educational

This has not always gone well: often a negative or neutral impact on computing, and if to much pressure is put on teachers to do this, then also a negative affect on the other subject as well. This is because most teachers are not computer science or IT teachers (I have heard some say “the pupils know more than I do”).

So what can be done in other subjects, not to just use computers or to try to give experience of computers to the pupils, but to teach an aspect of computer science or IT whilst still remaining within their subject's specialty. In particular, what can we do to help in this process? For example: how to aid with computational thinking in other disciplines. Can this be done in such a way as to also aid our own students?

  • $\begingroup$ @Buffy This question and its answers is intended to help my colleagues in other subjects, that have been asked by the higher powers, to include computing in their lessons. I have made some improvements, to make this more clear. $\endgroup$ – ctrl-alt-delor Sep 1 '17 at 13:56

Every field has its own key issues and methodologies. History and Literature, for example, are very different from Computer Science.

However, it is in the interest of those in other fields to promote computational thinking. It is a skill that their students need and it can be a tool in their own work. However, to do this two things are necessary:

  • First is to examine the current working practices in those other fields that use computational techniques in pursuit of their own goals. Literature, Science, Geography, History, Mathematics, the Social Sciences, all use computation for at least part of their normal work. This can be communicated to students and students can and should get practice in their use.

  • Second, and harder, is that it likely requires some collaboration, up to the level of team teaching, to bring good techniques to the fore for students. In other words, we in CS need to become servants to the other disciplines to help them deal with their own questions.

Computational Thinking is a big deal in the US now. It can start very early in a kid's life. Piaget and The Montessori method took a shot at this long ago, with success. But it needs to go beyond just math, into, say, Algorithmics and Big Data.


I think it's detrimental, to both computer science and education in general, to think of "computing" as a separate topic from the more "traditional" subjects of reading, writing, arithmetic, art, etc.

Computer science permeates our lives. It's used in pretty much every subject and every job. And it's not just the surface-level "here's how to use Microsoft Word" stuff, so I urge you to get as far away from that type of lesson as possible.

Instead, think about the intersection of a particular subject and computer science. Some examples:

English / Language Arts

  • Create interactive fiction using something like Twine.

  • Create a word cloud from various books, plays, poems, etc.

  • Perform sentiment analysis between different works, or between two characters.

  • Instead of writing a research paper, have students edit a Wikipedia article.

Social Studies

  • Find an interesting data set and use data visualization to tell a story about a social issue you believe in.

  • Use the Google Maps API to visualize some geospatial data, or to highlight geographic issues.

  • Discuss projects like internet.org or Project Loon. What impacts would they have on developing countries?

  • Research how technology has been used to help with natural disasters, refugee crises, and terrorist attacks. What are the privacy concerns of different affected groups?



  • Graph out some interesting functions using R or Python.

  • Write a simple program that performs useful calculations for you: how much interest will you pay on your student loans over the next 10 years?


None of the above require any advanced knowledge of computer science to at least dip your toes into the water. As a CS educator, you might volunteer to "guest lecture" the class, give them a basic demo, and have them work on some basic projects that introduce the above concepts. Or you could even "teach the teacher" and give them a lesson that they can then deliver to their students.

The real point is that there is no shortage of intersection between computer science and other fields. It's all over the place! Just take examples from real life, and think about the most bite-sized introduction you can come up with. Show that to the students, and you'll have a bunch of "oh, I didn't realize programming could be so interesting!"

  • $\begingroup$ Some of these are just, what we called in the UK, ICT. That is “It uses a computer, doesn't it.”. However some of them are very good examples: use of python, R, ones that don't use a computer, $\endgroup$ – ctrl-alt-delor Sep 9 '17 at 11:00
  • $\begingroup$ @ctrl-alt-delor Which ones are "just using a computer"? I respectfully disagree. I purposely chose topics that had a ton of creativity behind them, and that could be further explored by particularly interested students. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Workman Sep 9 '17 at 15:41
  • $\begingroup$ I agree, non of them are negative. I was just thinking that some were not very computer science or IT. But using computers to aid in teaching the other subject. This is not a bad thing though, just not what I was looking for (for those examples). +1 $\endgroup$ – ctrl-alt-delor Sep 9 '17 at 18:35
  • $\begingroup$ @ctrl-alt-delor I don't think it's "using computer to teach other subjects" at all. I think it's finding the intersection of computer science and other subjects, which is where a lot of interesting (and lucrative) research is happening right now. Getting students who are already interested in other subjects thinking about how computer science helps them with their interests is a good thing for everybody involved, imho. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Workman Sep 9 '17 at 18:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I agree. You are opening my eyes. $\endgroup$ – ctrl-alt-delor Sep 9 '17 at 18:42

Literature class

There are a lot of poetry, jokes and literature about computing.

Books, plays, film etc

These can be good to study, and ask are they like real computers? Why not? What can we learn from them?

  • I, Robot — Isaac Asimov
  • Deep Thought from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy — Douglas Adams
  • ANGEL 1 and ANGEL 2 from earth search — James Follett


  • Abort retry ignore This come from MS-Dos, where the computer would say you to choose form the 3 options, but what ever you choose it would just ask again.

    Once upon a midnight dreary, fingers cramped and vision bleary, System manuals piled high and wasted paper on the floor, Longing for the warmth of bed sheets, still I sat there doing spreadsheets. Having reached the bottom line I took a floppy from the drawer, I then invoked the SAVE command and waited for the disk to store, Only this and nothing more.

  • Abort retry ignore performed

< > ! * ' ' #
^ @ ` \$ \$ -
! * ' $ , _
% * < > #4
& ) . . /
| { ~ ~ System Halted

This transliterates to:

Waka Waka bang splat tick tick hash,
Caret at back-tick dollar dollar dash.
Bang splat tick dollar comma under_score,
Percent splat waka waka number four.
Ampersand right-paren dot dot slash,
Vertical-bar curly_bracket tilde tilde CRASH.

—Don Ehrhardt, Director, MIS North Carolina, Wesleyan College dehrhardt@ncwc.edu


  • There is no place like ~
  • Put it in /dev/null
  • touch /this error: can't touch ‘/this’: Permission denied
  • [ Where is my brain? [: Missing `]'.
  • #!/bin/bash (hash bash slash bin slash bash — from the fist line of a shell script)

  • Those who do not understand UNIX are condemned to reinvent it, poorly.

  • In a world without walls or fences who needs windows or gates.


  • There is no place like
  • There is no place like ::1
  • I want to dress up as a UDP packet for Halloween, but I don’t know if anyone will get it.
  • I wanted to write an IPv4 joke, but the good ones were all already gone.
  • Knock knock. Who’s there? SYN flood. SYN flood who? Knock knock.…
  • A network packet walks into a bar. Bartender asks what’s wrong? “Parity error.” “Yeah, you look a bit off.”



In history, the history of computing could be taught. The focus would be history, with little technical knowledge needed (except what is needed to understand the history).

It would include, the history of:

  • The printing press.
  • Telecommunications.
  • Computing (calculations and mechanical mathematics).
  • The type writer: why querty? [because it makes it easy to get it to work with the mechanical linkages] Why do we still use it? How easy is it to change, to something that is easier to learn?
  • Television (computer monitors, you tube).
  • Gaming.
  • The office.
  • Art / Animation


Pixel Art

I have recently seen some binary picture change t-shirts. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuFj5FfKPns

Pupils could make these in Art or textile classes. Each pixel is made with a thread through two sequins. If the sequins differ in colour then, when you rub your hand over them, that pixel will change colour. (Alternatively you could use sequins that are two colour.)

You can link this to how computers display images. Also explore how pixels are no longer noticed, if viewed from far away.

  • $\begingroup$ Great answer, as well as absolutely hilarious - +1 $\endgroup$ – karatechop Aug 6 '17 at 17:50

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