Searching Algorithms

Searching for a keyword or value is the basis of many computing applications, whether on an internet search engine or looking up a bank account balance.

This activity explores the main algorithms that are used as the basis for searching on computers, using different variations on the game of battleships.

Searching Algorithms

Activity description (PDF)

Translations and other versions



  • Teachers try the battleships game at a conference in Japan


  • An older version of this activity can be downloaded in PDF format here. The content is similar to the current version, but there’s some extra technical information

Curriculum Links

Great Principles of Computer Science [info]
  • Computation
ACM K12 Curriculum [info]
  • Level I (Grades 3–-5) Topic 11: develop a simple understanding of an algorithm
New Zealand Curriculum [info]
    • Mathematics Level 2: Equations and Expressions
      • Communicate and interpret simple additive strategies, using words, diagrams (pictures), and symbols
    • Mathematics Level 3: Position and Orientation
      • Use a co-ordinate system or the language of direction and distance to specify locations and describe paths
    • Technology Level 1: Brief Development
      • Describe the outcome they are developing and identify the attributes it should have, taking account of the need or opportunity
    • Technology Level 1: Outcome Development and Evaluation
      • Investigate a context to communicate potential outcomes. Evaluate these against attributes; select and develop an outcome in keeping with the identified attributes.
  • Technology Level 1: Planning for Practice
    • Outline a general plan to support the development of an outcome, identifying appropriate steps and resources