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Lightest and Heaviest - Sorting Algorithms

Computers are often used to arrange lists into some sort of order. For example, sorting names into alphabetical order, appointments or e-mail by date, or items in numerical order. Sorting lists helps us find things quickly, and also makes extreme values easy to see. If the wrong method is used, it can take a long time to sort a large list into order, even on a fast computer. Fortunately, several quick methods are known for sorting. In this activity students will discover different methods for sorting, and see how a clever method can perform the task much more quickly than a simple one. This resource begins with a discussion followed by the activity, sorting weights in which pairs of containers are compared to find the heaviest of each pair in a selection sort. The activity, divide and conquer, explores how a quicksort works. Both activities feature extension material. To conclude there is more information about how to sort information followed by solutions and hints. This collection of twenty activities from Computer Science Unplugged is designed to aid the teaching and learning of computer science through engaging games and puzzles using cards, string, crayons and lots of running around.

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