304 – Computational Thinking – The Family Gamers Podcast

Pac-Man made of fruit
Pac-Man made of fruit

Episode 304 – Computational Thinking

Fact! 304 (three-nought-four) is a trick-taking card game played in Sri Lanka and several other parts of the Indian sub-continent. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/304_(card_game)

What We’ve Been Playing

Monthly Report – July

Anitra: 33 plays of 20 games, H-index: 3
Most played: Unsurmountable, Battle Sheep, Dodos Riding Dinos

Andrew: 25 plays of 16 games, H-index 2
Most played: Royal Visit

Hey, That’s My Fish!
Latice Hawaii
Aldabas: Doors of Cartagena
Roll For It! (a great family game for any age – Nick’s review)
Super Mega Lucky Box (our review)


The Smith family tries Crystal Pepsi.

Send weird foods “For Science”! to:
The Family Gamers
60 Auburn St. # 528
Auburn, MA 01501

Master Word

SNAP Review – Master Word

This cooperative word-guessing game keeps everyone involved, even the “Guide”. Can you come up with yes/no questions that lead you to the right answer?

Read the transcript or watch the video on our SNAP review page for Master Word.

Computational Thinking – Introducing Programming Concepts with Board Games

We’re programmers by training. Can we tease apart some of the skills that build a programming mindset, and hone them through games?

Computational thinking includes: abstraction, decomposing, algorithms, and pattern recognition.

Research paper: Boardgames and Computational Thinking

Another paper: Training Computational Thinking through board games: The Case of Crabs & Turtles

So, computational thinking teaches people how to break problems apart into smaller pieces and get better at solving them. This is definitely something we should be teaching children (and adults)!

Abstraction: most boardgames already do this. Take a big concept, represent it through something simpler.

Decomposing: breaking down data, process, or problems into smaller parts and make manageable tasks.

Algorithms: putting those smaller parts together into repeatable processes.

Pattern recognition: both in laying out a physical pattern (The Whatnot Cabinet, Sagrada, Qwirkle) but also in cooperative games like Forbidden Island and Catch! – recognize the pattern of “what happens next”.

Specifically programming-related games:

Robo Rally
Robot Turtles
Quirky Circuits (our review)
Turing Tumble
Potato Pirates (check out episode 63)

Anitra expounds on Boolean logic and how that can be learned through deduction & logic games (Outfoxed, Concluzio, The Key, Purrrlock Holmes, Clue).

Even kids or adults who don’t think of themselves as “technical” will benefit from these skills. These are problem-solving tools, whether you’re applying them to computers or not.

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