YES Computational Thinking

YES Computational Thinking

Increasingly engineers use computational thinking (CT) and computational tools to solve problems. CT can improve engineering thinking, resulting in enhanced products.

Computational thinking is an approach to interpreting, creating, or refining algorithms to solve problems.

Algorithms are a set of instructions used to accomplish a task.

YES Middle School connects engineering and CT. Two CT Modules accompany each engineering unit. Students deepen and extend their understanding of the engineering topic by using computational thinking, tools, and practices to solve problems.

The YES team has identified key principles for effective use of CT in engineering. These describe why it is important for engineers to think computationally and for students to learn to think in this way.

YES Principles for Computational Thinking


Increase efficiency and accuracy: Engineers use computational tools to solve engineering problems more efficiently and accurately.

Generate and use algorithms: Engineers must interact with computational tools in a knowledgeable way—understanding the algorithm, or the steps, the computer is executing to carry out the task and knowing how to generate new or augment existing algorithms.

Recognize social context: Engineers must recognize the human and socially embedded nature of computational tools and the biases that may exist in the tool itself and/or in the application and interpretation of the tool and its output.

YES focuses on categories of computational tools engineers use:

  • data visualizations
  • models of processes and procedures
  • simulations of events, functions, and mathematical relationships; and
  • automation of data collection, analyses, and representations.