About Unplugged

A 'magic trick'

Many important topics in computer science can be taught without using computers at all. This series of activities unplugs computer science by providing off-line activities, games and puzzles that are suitable for people of all ages and backgrounds, but especially for elementary school children. The activities cover a wide range of topics, including algorithms, binary numbers, compression, deadlock, and more! By avoiding the use of computers altogether, the activities avoid the computer getting in the way of learning, and also happen to work just as well in countries that don't have ready access to computers in schools. The only materials needed are things like cards, strings, crayons, and other household items.

An extensive set of Unplugged material is available in our books or as PDF files, but much of it is also available for free download. If you enjoy these activities you are encouraged to get the full version (see the information about purchasing a copy).

A sample worksheet

For each Unplugged activity, full instructions are given, and worksheets are provided wherever possible to minimize the effort required for class preparation. Each activity includes a background section that explains its significance, and answers are provided for all problems. All you need for most of these activities are curiousity and enthusiasm.

These activities are primarily aimed at the five to twelve year-old age group. They have been used in the classroom, in science center demonstrations, in the home, and even for community fun days in a park! But they are by no means restricted to this age range: they have been used to teach older children and adults too.

Their are two versions of the book. The Teacher's edition book is principally for teachers who would like to give their classes something a bit different from the standard fare, and is intended for teachers at the elementary, junior high, and high school levels. There is also the "original" edition, which is more technical, and intended for those who have more of a background in computer science.

As well as being suitable for classroom use, the Unplugged will be valuable for computing professionals who would like to help out in their children's or grandchildren's classrooms, for parents who can use these as family activities, for home-schoolers, for science centers who run educational programs for children, for computer camps or clubs, and for course instructors---including university professors---who are looking for a motivational introduction to a computer science topic. It is designed for anyone who wants to introduce people to key concepts of the information age.

A happy computer

So unplug your computer, and get ready to learn what computer science is really about!