At the Annual Conference, I attended a session hosted by Google, which was cool in and of itself, but they did a fun activity that I think would make a great outreach activity for introducing kids to computer science concepts. And the best part is that it doesn’t require a computer! The Google engineers created fake DVD cases out of laminated color copies of the actual cases. The cases had Velcro to hold them together and then had a laminated color copy of the DVD attached by Velcro inside. I won’t bore you with all the details, but first we searched for a DVD. Then we sorted the DVDs and did the search again. By counting how many DVDs we had to look at to find the one we wanted, we were able to compare the speed of a binary search with a search on unsorted data. Depending on the age, you could even start talking Big O notation, remember that? We even did a bucket sort.
I’m feeling a little too geeky so I’ll stop. If you want more details, let me know, I took copious notes. 🙂 What cool outreach ideas bring out the geek in you?