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Animal Basket Sorter (SC28)

Learning Scenario Identity
TitleAnimal Basket Sorter
Length90 minutes (2×45 minutes)
Main idea/descriptionThe aim is to show through play how a sorting algorithm could work. The instructions need to remain simple and they should lead to successful actions.
Target group3rd-6th grade
Curriculum/learning subjectsMathematics, Computer Science
Competenciesthe students learn what an algorithm means and how there are different ways to arrange numbers (it is not very easy, when their number increases). The students learn basic principles of programming and how to use the programming-related if statement in practice
Teachers’ wellness competencesTC4. Social e-competency
Learning Scenario Framework
Pedagogical methodPI6. Encouraging engagement (Engage students in self-directed and dedicated learning)
Software/materialsThis scenario can be executed by using a conferencing tool that allows teacher-student interaction (e.g., Zoom). The teacher needs to have a good quality camera that allows the students to see the setup in the room (preferably, from eagle eye view for clarity). It is important that the teacher encourages the students to actively participate in the task throughout the entire session. The teacher can also use a voting tool to make the final decision on which animal is moved where. The voting system can also introduce elements of a game, like rewarding points for each successful sort. This can make the learning process more enjoyable and less stressful.
It is important to break down the instructions into smaller, more digestible parts. Simplified rules help in reducing cognitive overload, which is crucial for younger students. You can also encourage students to work in small teams to discuss and decide the movements. This not only makes the activity more engaging but also fosters social skills.
After each activity, have a short reflection period where students can discuss what they learned and how they felt during the exercise. This encourages mindfulness and self-awareness.
Other materials needed: Multiple baskets (at least 12) that can fit (small) stuffed animals or other objects that could make sense to sort. At least 6 objects to sort. Attach random number to each object that is different from the others and visible to camera
Evaluation toolsThe teacher observes the student engagement throughout the activity. However, it is important for this exercise that the students learn about the principles in a tangible way and have the opportunity to affect the decisions made. 
Provide positive feedback and encouragement throughout the activity. Recognize not just success in sorting but also teamwork, effort, and improvement.
Learning Scenario Implementation
Learning activities Introduction
The principle of algorithms is explained to the students (attachment 1) and how the algorithms follow certain instructions to always provide a solution regardless of the data that is given to them. The students can be reminded of the human robot exercise and they are advised to closely follow the provided instructions.

Αctivity 1
First, the teacher shows the idea of the exercise with only one pair of animals/objects. The teacher places two stuffed animals into a basket and asks the students, how should the animals be placed so that they would be in numerical order based on their number. The animals can only change places inside the basket. The animal with the smaller number is moved on the left side and the animal with the bigger number on the right side. Now, the animals are moved out of the basket and they are arranged in numerical order.

Αctivity 2
Next, the exercise is practiced with four stuffed animals. Five baskets are placed on the floor according to the picture below (1st line: 2 baskets; 2nd line: 2 baskets; 3rd line: 1 basket. The same setup is repeated, the animals are placed to stand next to one another. The animals are placed in baskets pairwise. After rearranging inside the basket, both members of the pair are moved to the next line of baskets: the animal with the smaller number is moved to the basket on the left and the animal with the bigger number is moved to the basket on the right. In the second row, the numbers are compared again, and the animals can be arranged accordingly within the baskets. However, this time the leftmost and rightmost animals are placed forwards out of their baskets, while the remaining animals are placed into the next basket to rearrange by their numbers. Finally, all the animals are placed outside the baskets and should be in numerical order.

In the beginning, the animals are arranged as shown in the bottom part of the picture. The circles are baskets and the arrows illustrate the movement of the animals
– When the exercise has been tried out a couple of times, it is time for discussion. 
– How many comparisons were there in the first exercise? What about the second one? How many comparisons would there be with six animals?

Activity 3
Let’s try sorting with six animals. The starting arrangement is the same, the animals each have a number and they stand next to one another (see the bottom of the picture). The animals are put into the baskets pairwise and compare their numbers inside the basket. The animal with the smaller number is moved to the left side and the animal with the greater number is moved to the right side. The animal with the smaller number will always move to the basket on the left. When there is no basket, the animal will simply be put out of the basket and remain in their position. When all the baskets have been covered, the animals should be in numerical order.

1st-3rd line: 3 baskets, 4th line: 2 baskets, 5th line: 1 basket

Final Discussion:
When the students have arranged themselves enough, there will be a final discussion. 
– Is it possible to sort 10 animals this way? 
– What about 100 animals? 
– One million animals? 
– How does the amount of numbers that need to be compared, grow? 
The efficiency of an algorithm can be defined by considering how many comparisons it has to do with a data set of certain magnitude. The sorting algorithm used during this exercise can be derived from the bubble sort algorithm, which is one of the algorithms with poorest performance. However, it is one of the easiest algorithms to understand.

Attachment 1
Algorithms are sets of instructions that enable achieving a desired outcome. Basically, these instructions can be any kind of instructions, for example the ones that we can see in cook books. However, usually when algorithms are discussed, we often refer to mathematical instructions or instructions that are meant for a computer to understand. The binary search that we practice here is a search algorithm. Many search and ordering algorithms are used in information technology, but also for example in targeting commercials to people using the Internet.