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Digital Citizen | Exploring intellectual property rights | 6-8, 9-10, 11-12

Student Objective

Students will be able to:
1. define common algorithms and equations
2. define copyright and explain how it impacts them


Step 1: Exploring algorithms and equations

First, teachers can have students review the definitions and examples of algorithms and equations. Students can visit Khan Academy videos on algorithms and equations to review them. As students explore algorithms and equations, they can use this glossary to review key terms.

Step 2: Share student findings

Next, teachers can have students look for famous examples of algorithms and equations, and they can share those examples on a collaborative board. Teachers can consider setting up a Padlet board where they can add the prompts to this discussion board’s introduction and have students post responses to them. When ready, teachers can use the responses to facilitate a classroom conversation.

Step 3: Facilitated class discussion using collaborative boards

Teachers can then facilitate a class discussion about the examples by asking:

  • What makes an algorithm and equation famous?
  • When do you, as a consumer, use these algorithms and equations?
  • If you were going to try to write the next famous algorithm or equation, what might you write it about?

In response, students can post their thoughts to the prompts on the collaborative board or express them verbally in the class.

Step 4: What is copyright, anyways?

Finally, students can review information about copyright. When learning about copyright law, teachers can direct students this website’s FAQ and video collection. Once they’ve completed their research they can post the following prompts to a collaborative board:

  • Is it possible to copyright an algorithm? Please explain your response.
  • Is it possible to copyright an equation? Please explain your response.

When finished, teachers can have students share theirs by posting them to the collaborative board and then discussing them.


This instructional idea has students review the definitions algorithms and equations along with when they use them. They then apply copyright law to determine their rights and obligations for sharing algorithms and equations as long as when they can use them.

EdTech used in this activity:

Alternative Ed Tech you could use:

Padlet, Khan Academy, Cut the Knot – Math Glossary,