Computer Anatomy 101

Computer Anatomy 101

KidsTek’s computer science students at Florence Crittenton High School found a sweet way to learn about computer hardware last week. To culminate a week spent learning about the most essential parts of computer hardware, these students got to show what they know by building models of motherboards out of candy.

“Using a computer these days is so abstract. Most people never dig in to figure out the actual physical processes that make their technology work, so it’s exciting to get to teach teens something that most of their peers, their parents, and maybe even most adults don’t fully understand,” said Senior Instructor Emily Tow.

Students assembled models including microprocessors, integrated circuits, RAM, and other essential components represented by Starbursts, Hershey’s bars, Twizzlers, and other candies. They “soldered” their boards together with frosting and then labeled each part using toothpicks and Post It flags.

This week, those same students had a chance to interact with the actual internal hardware of a computer. KidsTek Program Director Andrew Bissland visited Florence Crittenton to lead the demonstration. Students watched and participated as Andrew opened up an old CPU and got to hold hardware like expansion cards, circuit boards, and more.

“I occasionally visit classes with old equipment for a computer “anatomy” lesson.  Seeing the physical components in person is certainly better than just viewing the images online or in a textbook.  It’s a fun interactive lesson, and I also often bring in old media including things like floppy diskettes to show how data storage has evolved over time,” Andrew said.  “Through guest lessons, guest speakers, and field trips, we try to vary our teaching methods as much as we can to bring concepts alive and engage our students!”

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