Sorting Mat

the sorting mat exhibit

Sort human-shaped tokens on this bench-top exhibit, or try a large, carpet version that sorts real people!

How it Works

Use a simple sorting method to order objects and people by height.

Things to Try or Ask Around the Exhibit

  • How quickly does this sorting method find the shortest or tallest objects?
  • Is there a limit on how many object could be sorted at once like this?


It is important for computers to be able to sort lists efficiently. This exhibit investigates one way of sorting objects, but there are many others, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Finding the Science in Your World

Any time a computer places objects from a list into an order it uses a sorting algorithm. Internet search engines are successful when they are able to quickly sort huge numbers of results (e.g. sorting a list of websites by how closely they match your search terms).