Ask students to consider which objects in the room are computers to further their understanding of what computing is. Use the phrasing "What different Computers do you see".


  • Get students to think critically about the definition of computers, and to contemplate the ways they interact with different types of computers each day.


  • First, ask students to count how many computers there are in the room.
    • Some students will only count the desktop and laptop computers in the room, while other students will count a wider variety of things.
      • Examples of other computers students may come up with include calculators, phones, and even humans.
  • Change the question "How many computers are in the room?" to "What different computers do you see?"
    • This question can be found on pg 31-32 of ECS Unit 1, version 6.
    • This shifts the focus to inquiry encouraging debate and open-ended discussions.
  • Next, have groups of 3-4 students discuss other examples of computers, and write these examples on post-it notes to put on the board.
    • Once the results are in, discuss them as a class and ask students why they think certain objects are or are not computers.
    • Then, have students create classifications for different types of computers and regroup the examples of computers into these classifications.
  • To conclude this exercise, have students follow up the discussion of what a computer is by discussing what computing is.
    • Suggest that students consult their list of computers to help them define computing.
      • Remind them that there is no single correct answer to this question.
  • Before the class ends, implore students to keep this question in mind as they learn more about computing throughout the course.
  • For more details on this activity, visit the ECS Curriculum Version 5.0 and navigate to Days 1-2 in Unit 1, page 28.

    Additional Activities:


    • Pro Tip by Mark Folger from ECS forum on - Have students rate items as "Definitely Computers," "Maybe Computers," and "Not Computers."
      • Give each student 15 post-it notes, 5 post-its for "Definitely Computers," 5 post-its for "Maybe Computers," and 5 post-its for "Not Computers."
        • Setup category spaces on the board at the front of the classroom for students to place their post-its.
      • As students bring their post-its to the board, discuss and debate whether the class agrees or disagrees with the post-its and why.
      • Alternate Option: Split the classroom in groups of 4 and have the small groups place the post-its on their own categorized board and discuss their choices with each other. Then have the groups report out to the classroom.
    • Pro Tip by Steve Schulz from ECS Forum on - Ask students as a class to "List all of the computers you’ve seen in the last 24 hours (not counting the desktops in your classroom)."
      • Have the students take turns adding items to a list of computers on the whiteboard.
      • As a class, discuss possible definitions for a computer that emphasize input, process, and output
    • Pro Tip by Jennifer Bearce from ECS Forum on - Have small teams of students sort items that are and are not computers into a chart, then have a class discussion comparing answers.
      • Split the class into teams of 4 - 6. Provide each team with cards that contain pictures or names of items on them, some of the items are considered computers and others are not.
      • Each team sorts the cards into a chart or Venn Diagram (left circle is "YES it is a computer", right circle is "NO it is not a computer," and the overlapping area is for the "MAYBE" category for when they aren't sure if it is or isn’t a computer).
      • Teams share out their results and defend their reasoning over conflicting answers.

    Additional Resources suggested by CS10K Curated Content by John Landa: