Teaching how the Internet works (lower secondary)

This is not my idea, it is Jamie Edmondson’s idea who teaches computing at two Primary Schools in Manchester. It is brilliant! Jamie’s original lesson can be found by following this LINK. We’ve modified it slightly so I thought I’d share it with you.

The game has two parts, the first part is learning about sending messages within the same LAN, and the second is learning about sending messages to another network via two routers.

For part one, group students’ tables so that one person will be a switch and the rest are computers with assigned IP addresses. Draw the table plan on the board so the class can visualise what is going on. Give each student on the table a card identifying them as a switch or an IP address.

Ask the IP address students to write a message for another computer at the same table. The message needs to be separated into three ‘packets’ with the receiver’s and sender’s IP addresses clearly shown.
For example:

Students then send all messages to their group’s switch. The switch then sorts them into different piles and puts each pile into an envelope with the destination IP address written on it. Finally, the switch gives the message to the correct IP address.
Once students have completed this, you can then divide the class in half and assign two people, one from each group to be the router.
Routers need to let each other know the IP addresses they have. Then ask student to send a message to a computer in the other network. This time, the message will be sent from a switch to a router, then another router and another switch and then to the correct IP address.
Thank you to Meng from my school for sharing this modification with me. Previously I’ve blogged a ‘problem solving game for introducing networks‘ and ‘simulating networks using Micro:bits‘. In terms of using all of these activities to teach networks, I would use the problem solving game first, then this activity followed by simulating networks using Micro:bits.


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