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Captchas: Online Test Separates Humans from Computers

Source Institutions

    Science Museum of Minnesota

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Captchas: Online Test Separates Humans from Computers

This online activity lets learners explore how computer programs called "CAPTCHAS" work to test whether you are a human or a computer. Learners will be tested with a series of visual activities to identify letters and words that have been changed or distorted to make them hard to read. These tests explore how you read letters versus how a computer reads them. The activity also explores human vision and how human brains use "pattern recognition" to help us understand what we see. Finally, this activity gives learners an introduction to the history of computer intelligence and of the "Turing Test" developed by Alan Turing in his 1950 paper, "Computing Machinery and Intelligence."

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:

Age Range:
Ages 6 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Simulation


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Computer with internet access


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Computing
    • Engineering
      • Computer Engineering
    • Technology
      • Information and Communication
  • Life Sciences
    • Human Senses and Perception
      • Vision
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Technology and History
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation

Informal Categories

  • Computers


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • use keyboard
  • use mouse

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All Rights Reserved, Science Museum of Minnesota, ©2009

Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 0104691


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