Our Mission

Our mission is to empower a broad spectrum of today's youth swiftly to become leading-edge computational thinkers. We want graduates of our programs to embrace the opportunities to combine their imagination and modern computation to better understand the physical, social, intellectual and cultural worlds they inhabit and, as appropriate, to develop ways to improve them. We will do so in ways that span communities and previous exposure to computation.

What Is Computational Thinking?

Computational thinking trains the mind to see the ways in which the special skills of ubiquitous modern computational devices can be harnessed to better understand the physical, social, intellectual and cultural worlds we inhabit. It is a step beyond coding or programming in which the goal is often to formulate instructions for a computer to achieve a pre-defined goal in a way that recognizes the strengths and limitations of particular hardware. Computational thinking instead emphasizes development of the mind to see how computation can be used to explore a problem and develop a solution in ways that would generally not be possible for the human mind standing alone. Although it very much involves programming, the idea is to use a computer language that provides the most direct link possible between idea and implementation; the human tends to be insulated from the details of the particular machine and instead focuses energy, much as in traditional critical thinking, on the questions that need to be asked and the information needed to be discovered. It is an incredibly empowering skill. In the same way that writers feel emboldened to use traditional languages to write on a diversity of real and imagined experiences, computational thinkers have the courage to just start computing about anything that strikes their interest in their personal and professional lives. It is a way of asking real questions about our world and, often, getting real answers.

Why Does Computational Thinking Matter?

One might think that computational thinking is somehow only relevant to STEM education, but that's not true. Computational thinking is relevant across the whole curriculum. To social studies. To language arts. To music. To art. Even to sports. In every one of these areas, there are very powerful—and often very clarifying—things that can be done with computation and computational thinking, and the great thing is that it's all accessible to kids. Students who learn computational thinking will continue to use it throughout their lives. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, farmers, whoever. The future of all these professions will be full of computational thinking. Whether it's sensor-based medicine, computational contracts, education analytics or computational agriculture—success is going to rely on being able to do computational thinking well.

About Us

The Computational Thinking Initiative offers programs and resources to improve computational thinking skills among students everywhere, initially concentrating on middle-school and high-school students. With support from a central staff of trained experts, volunteers enable the initiative to provide leading-edge computational thinking instruction in locations across the United States and around the world. With the support of generous sponsors, many students who would never have encountered computational thinking in school will now have access to enriching Computational Thinking Initiative programs that will prepare them to be the creative, dynamic makers of our computational future.

The Computational Thinking Initiative is a new charitable organization that emerges from the Wolfram Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by Stephen Wolfram that has provided over a decade of programs in computational thinking education.

Computational thinking is going to be a defining feature of the future—and it’s an incredibly important thing to be teaching to kids today.... Computational thinking is going to be needed everywhere. And doing it well is going to be a key to success in almost all future careers.

-Stephen Wolfram