The 4Cs of STEM in Computer Science

Computer Science Education Week is the perfect time to grow students' STEM skills. STEM skills are needed in almost any occupation. However, STEM skills do not always mean understanding equations or coding languages.

STEM emphasises skills like critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication: these skills are the 4Cs of STEM. Solutions like Robotify encourage students to use the 4Cs of STEM while learning how to code.

Learn to code! Axel's Mars Adventure Semester 2

The 4Cs of STEM

The 4C’s of STEM are skills necessary for students of the 21st century to learn. The 4Cs include critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication.

●      Critical thinking means analysing systems, assessing evidence, making connections, and interpreting information. Critical thinking requires students to reflect on past experiences.

●      Creativity usually refers to coming up with new ideas. Yet, improving ideas, working with constraints, and learning from failure are as important.

●      Collaboration means working in groups, sharing responsibility, and making decisions and compromises.

●      Communication is critical in our global world. Communicating is the ability to express ideas, understand meaning, and demonstrate ideas to different audiences.

The 4Cs in the real world

Computer Science Education Week is a perfect time to learn how the 4Cs are used in the real world! The 4Cs are used to build a river cleaning robot, to design a drone system, and to explore Mars. For a list of different computer science careers, check out this free classroom poster[1] !  Here are three examples where the 4Cs are being used to code amazing robots!


Urban Rivers creates solutions to transform urban waterways into habitat solutions. They created a volunteer controlled robot called Trashbot to clean the Chicago River. The creators of Trashbot used critical thinking to recognize the complex system that Trashbot operates in. Trashbot would need to ensure the safety of wildlife, civilians, and infrastructure.

Using critical thinking, the team realised the robot would need to be controlled by someone. An automated robot could be too risky in a wildlife habitat. Additionally, the team knew they could not control the robot all day.

Creativity was used to find a solution! The team learned from constraints and previous failures to find a solution. Volunteers could control Trashbot throughout the day to clean the river safely.

Collaboration with volunteers in the city made the solution possible. Additionally, the team used media communications to show how to use Trashbot. Now, Trashbot is run by community volunteers who can clean up the Chicago River at any time.

UTM Project

An Aerial Drone

NASA’s UAS Traffic Management (UTM) project uses collaboration to solve problems. A UAS is an unmanned aircraft system such as a system of drones or satellites. The UTM project’s goal is to find a way for low altitude drones to operate in large numbers. This would accommodate businesses, like Amazon, that want to use drone delivery services.

The potential uses for drones are limitless! The UTM team uses critical thinking skills to identify problems before they arise. They have to identify how extreme weather could affect a drone, or what happens if a drone is lost. The UTM project is even researching how future technology like flying taxis would be managed.

The UTM project is complex with many interested partners in corporations and governments. The UTM team knows collaboration is the key to the project’s success. Drone technology could reduce traffic, fight wildfires, and replace dangerous jobs.

Collaboration allows the UTM team to include the needs and challenges of different groups in the research. The team collaborates and communicates with other researchers and the public. NASA’s UTM website provides up-to-date information and updates about the project.

Mars Rover

NASA's Mars Perseverance Rover

The Perseverance Mars Rover roams the red landscape of Mars with the help of NASA’s scientists. On one mission, the team was challenged to drive the Perseverance Rover as far as possible. However, the Perseverance Rover would be self-driving. The team at NASA needed the Perseverance to drive efficiently while avoiding obstacles.

Critical thinking is crucial to the Perseverance Mars Rover mission. Critical thinking is used to assess the situation, make connections, and interpret data. Additionally, critical thinking is used to learn from Mars missions and determine new solutions.

Creativity is used to overcome obstacles and imagine new ways to program the Mars rover. The paths to take on Mars are endless, but some are better than others.

The team coding the Mars Rover also understands how to collaborate. By collaborating with teams across NASA, the team has clear lines of communication. This way, they can share and interpret data to help improve the rover's path.

Empowering the Next Generation

The 4Cs of STEM are apparent across these three examples. Critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication are key to any mission. From cleaning up a city’s river to exploring space, computer scientists use the 4Cs every day.

Students can start improving these skills right now. Robotify teaches students to use the 4Cs of STEM in our Learn, Create, Compete curriculum. Students can code their own Mars rover, or program a delivery drone in 3D environments. Empower students’ futures with computer science—get started with Robotify today! Computer Science Education Week is the perfect time to grow students' STEM skills. STEM skills are needed in almost any occupation. However, STEM skills do not always mean understanding equations or coding languages.The4Cs of STEM in Computer ScienceComputer science skills are needed now more than ever. Digital tools, automation, and AI are reshaping the work landscape. The baseline understanding of digital literacy is being raised for all occupations. According to a 2021 report, the pandemic has amplified the need for these skills.