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Lesson plans

Explore TryComputing.org's collection of interactive pre-university computing lessons below.

"Computing in the Cloud…" Lesson

hands working on arduino boardThis lesson starts with an early history of cloud computing, describing its early forms, and how it has been transformed to its present state. This lesson provides guidelines for students to use some cloud facilities such as CloudMe, a file sharing utility, and also teaches them how to install multiple guest OS in a host OS to introduce virtualization i.e. the key concept behind cloud computing.

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"Fun with Sorting" Lesson

jumbled number magnetsFun with Sorting introduces pre-university students to sorting, one of the most basic and fundamental problems in Computer Science. Students are first introduced to smaller versions of the problem, which form the building blocks of the algorithms they themselves develop later. The problem is given the form of instructor-moderated in-class demonstrations and discussions, followed by group exercises and inter-group competitions.

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"Solving a Simple Maze" Lesson

mazeThe activity involves the design of an algorithm for solving a 4x4 simple maze. The problem statement is just to design an algorithm and implement them using flow chart. If the background of students permits the use of basic programming, implementing the algorithm in a preferred programming language is recommended.

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"Search Engines" Lesson

lens magnifying the word engineThe “Search engines” lesson explores the technology that makes a search engine possible, and takes a look at its variations. Students work in teams to build their own search queries. Students study how different search engine algorithms work.

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"Solving Problems with Decision Trees" Lesson

lens magnifying fingerprint on keyboardThis lesson activity explores how simple computing concepts/algorithms have contributed to solving real life problems. Students will also learn solving problems with decision trees. Students will have the opportunity to work in teams to explore an example of how the decision tree can be used for detecting subscription fraud.

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"Complexity – It's Simple" Lesson

lily pads and flowers on pondThe Complexity lesson allows students learn about complexity through illustrative games, teamwork activities and design tasks. Students will gain an intuitive understanding of different growth rates and how they determine the performance of algorithms such as sorting. Advanced students can also develop skills in analyzing the complexity of algorithms.

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"Give Binary a Try!" Lesson

binary clockThe "Give Binary a Try!" lesson explores how binary codes work, how it is applied by computer engineers to computers and other electronic equipment including clocks. Students learn how to use the code, read binary clocks, and advanced students can build their own binary clock from a kit.

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"Choose Your Best Way" Lesson

pushpin on mapThe “Choose Your Best Way” lesson explores how to build a mathematic model that helps solve real problems and how to realize algorithmic thinking in computers. Students work in teams to build a graph model of their city map. Students then try to solve a real problem based on the model, evaluate their solutions, and present their reflections to the class.

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First computer mouse
Douglas Engelbart
Douglas Engelbart

In 1967, Douglas Engelbart applied for a patent for an "X-Y position indicator for a display system," which he and his team developed at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in Menlo Park, California. The device, a small, wooden box with two metal wheels, was nicknamed a "mouse" because a cable trailing out of the one end resembled a tail.

In addition to the first computer mouse, Engelbart’s team developed computer interface concepts that led to the GUI interface, and were integral to the development of ARPANET--the precursor to today’s Internet. Engelbart received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Oregon State University in 1948, followed by an MS in 1953 and a Ph.D. in 1955 both from the University of California, Berkeley.

RISC processor
John Hennessy
John Hennessy

Have you ever wondered how computers can execute complex commands in mere seconds? John Hennessy is a pioneer of reduced instruction set computing (RISC) architecture which employs small, highly-optimized sets of instructions to greatly enhance computer performance. He was instrumental in transferring the technology, specifically MIPS RISC architecture, to industry. He co-founded MIPS Technologies and co-authored the classic textbook with David A. Patterson, on Computer Architecture.

As Stanford faculty he rose to be the Chairman of the Computer Science Department, Dean of the School of Engineering, then Provost and finally the President of Stanford in 2000 (and till date). Hennessy holds a Master’s and Ph.D. in Computer Science from SUNY Stony Brook. He is an IEEE Fellow and was selected to receive the IEEE Medal of Honor in 2012. Hennessey also launched significant activities that helped to foster interdisciplinary research in the biosciences and bioengineering at Stanford.

Liz Gerber - Image credit Lisa Beth Anderson
Liz Gerber
Liz Gerber - Image credit Lisa Beth Anderson

Liz Gerber earned her MS and PhD in Product Design and Management Science and Engineering at Stanford. She specializes in design and human-computer interaction, particularly how social computing supports the innovation process. Her current research investigates crowd-funding as a mechanism for reducing disparities in entrepreneurship.
Gerber's work funded by the US National Science Foundation and the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance has appeared in peer-reviewed journals, including Transactions on Computer Human Interactions, Design Studies, and Organization Science.
As an award-winning teacher and researcher, Liz has touched the lives of more than 6,000 students through her teaching at Northwestern's Segal Design Institute and Stanford University's Hasso Plattner's Institute of Design and through her paradigm-shifting creation, Design for America, a national network of students using design to tackle social challenges.

Image credit - Lisa Beth Anderson

@ symbol
Ray Tomlinson
Ray Tomlinson

Have you ever considered that someone, at some point, was in a position to choose what symbol would be used separate the user from their location in an email address? That person, it turns out, was Ray Tomlinson, and in 1971 he chose "@". Tomlinson is credited with demonstrating the first email sent between computers on a network, and when asked what inspired him to make this selection he said, “Mostly because it seemed like a neat idea.”

After completing his Master’s degree at MIT in 1965, Ray joined the Information Sciences Division of Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Since then he has made many notable contributions to the world of network computing. He was a co-developer of the TENEX computer system that was popular in the earliest days of the Internet; he developed the packet radio protocols used in the earliest internetworking experiments; he created the first implementation of TCP; and he was the principle designer of the first workstation attached to the Internet.

King's Quest
Roberta Williams

Video games immerse users in a world of high tech thrills, stunning visuals, unique challenges, and interactivity. They enable users to become a warrior princess or a gruesome ghoul, create a virtual persona, or even develop worlds that other gamers can play on. But before the games of today became reality, they were the dreams of a few innovative individuals.

Roberta Williams is considered one of the pioneers of gaming as we know it today. During the 80’s and 90’s along with husband Ken Williams through their company On-Line Systems, she developed some of the first graphical adventure games. These included such titles as Mystery House, Wizard and the Princess and the popular King’s Quest series. Williams also helped introduce more girls and women to the world of gaming by bringing games developed from a woman’s perspective to mainstream market.

Image credits