Each year, KidsTek Program Director Andrew Bissland visits the “Intro to Computing” class at Aurora’s Hinkley High School to do a hands-on network cabling activity. Andrew teaches the students about Cat5 ethernet cable and how to “terminate” it, that is: cutting it to custom lengths and properly wiring the connectors on each end. Terminating one’s own networking cable is cheaper than buying it pre-made at a store and it can be customized for particular uses. Once the cable lengths are wired and capped with connectors, students use a testing device to see if they properly configured their cables.
One of the best parts of this lesson is that it is made into a competition. “Students really get into it and want to be the first one to successfully complete each end of their cable so they can have bragging rights and win a prize,” said Program Manager Meghan Lang. “I always love being present for this class activity because the student’s interest for technology really shines and it is fun to observe.”
Providing hands-on learning is something that KidsTek emphasizes in classes throughout the year. By working on physical technology projects in class, students are more likely to remember specific skills and be able to recall them in the future. At the end of this activity, students get to keep the Cat5 cable that they created. Katy Limes, KidsTek’s Instructor at Hinkley High School said, “I love that cabling is super fun and hands-on. My hope is that this makes the world of computer networking more accessible for them!”