Have students act as elements walking through a network to sort themselves to teach students about how Sorting Networks function.

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  • This activity gives students physical intuition for how sorting networks operate.
    • Separate students into teams of 6, only 6 students can move through the sorting network at a time.
  • Prior to this activity, recreate the image at the bottom of this tip in life size on the floor.
    • You can use chalk outside, blue painters tape, a giant print out, etc.
    • Students will be navigating through this diagram so it’s important that it’s large.
  • Activity:
    • Assign a number to each student on a team and have all of the students line up in random order along the initial position boxes on the “in” side of the network diagram.
    • Have students walk forward following the arrow until they get to a new spot.
    • At each spot have the students compare their number with the number of the other student at their spot.
      • The student with the smaller number walks to the left.
      • The student with the larger number walks to the right.
    • Students repeat this process until they have reached the “out” side of the network.
      • If done correctly, the students will have sorted their numbers.
  • For more information, check out the CS Unplugged Sorting Networks Activity!
A diagram of the sorting network that will be drawn for the activity