Adapting Classic Computer Science Problems for Elementary Students: Case Study of the Four Color Map Theorem

Here’s the abstract for a little research project I am planning for my final project for my inquiry learning course.  Still trying to pinpoint exactly what to collect for data and what I am looking for.  I tend to be drawn to basic research where you don’t necessarily know what you are looking for ahead of time, I have noticed.



Computer science is usually thought of as complex subject bested suited for college students.  Can computer science concepts and classic computer science problems be adapted for elementary students so that young children can engage with them in a deep way?   The Four Color Map Problem was adapted for elementary students to explore.  I examine the results of giving this problem to elementary students, both regular and advanced, and also examine differences in how doctoral level students in math and science education approached the same lesson.  Results of a qualitative examination of the progression of drawings used to prove or disprove the 4 Color Map Problem with the various cohorts in this study are given.  The lesson is also examined in terms of constructivism and inquiry based teaching and learning such as teacher or student centeredness. I examine how the lesson relates to developmental notions of mathematical proof and how notions of big ideas in mathematics and science apply to computer science.  Finally, improvements to the original lesson plan are suggested as a result of experimental results, theoretical frameworks, and extant research on elementary computer science curriculum.

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