BEE BOTS, Coding, Computer Science

Sorting Networks (Unplugged) – Place Value & Rounding

Sorting Networks (Unplugged) – You ever wonder how computers work together to solve problems. Working with a 3rd grade teacher, we decided to integrate CS into her math unit on place value. I was invited in to review place value with her students, then demonstrate how a network of computers work together to solve a problem. Using a lesson I found on, students practiced putting numbers in order from least to greatest.

Sorting Networks

For this lesson, I purchased a painter’s tarp from Harbor Freight ($16.99) and an oil based sharpie ($7.99) from Michael’s. I then created a sorting network mat that I can use over and over again. I’m also created a 5×4 grid on the back to use for additional unplugged activities.

Word of caution! Make sure that students are careful walking on the mat so that they will not slip.

Here is the lesson plan. In all, it took about 45 minutes.

3rd grade students using the sorting network mat

For this activity, six students were chosen and were placed on the right side of the mat and given a number. The other students in the class were at their seats and had to write the six numbers from least to greatest on their desks.

Following the arrows, each student then move to the next correct rectangle.

This is where the students practice collaboration, communication, problem-solving and critical thinking. Once a pair of students were on each of the next three rectangles they had to compare numbers, the lowest number went left, the higher number went right. This continued until they were on the left side of the mat.

This was a challenging activity. It required students to go back and debug their program multiple times before getting it correct.

Plans for future use of the sorting mat:

  • Timeline
  • Telling Time
  • Birthdays
  • Map skills
  • ABC order

Can you think of any other?

Click HERE, to check out the Bee Bot (Plugged) Place Value activity for these 3rd and 4th grade students.

Students checking their answer w/ a QR code before coding the BEE BOT!

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