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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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CGA palette
Mark Dean

If you have ever used a PC with a color display you have been acquainted with the work of Mark Dean. After achieving a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Tennessee, Dean began his career at IBM. Dean served as the chief engineer on the team that developed the first IBM PC, for which he currently holds one third of the patents. With colleague Dennis Moeller, he developed the Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) systems bus, which enabled peripheral devices such as printers, keyboards, and modems to be directly connected to computers, making them both affordable and practical. He also developed the Color Graphics Adapter which allowed for color display on the PC. Most recently, Dean spearheaded the team that developed the one-gigahertz processor chip. Dean went on to obtain a MSEE from Florida Atlantic University and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford University. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and is the first African-American IBM Fellow.

Punch card from a COBOL program
Jean Sammet

Jean E. Sammet was one of the first developers and researchers in programming languages. During the 1950’s - 1960’s she supervised the first scientific programming group for Sperry Gyroscope Co. and served as a key member of the original COBOL (COmmon Business-Oriented Language) committee at Sylvania Electric Products. She also taught one of the first graduate programming courses in the country at Adelphi College. After joining IBM in 1961, she developed and directed the first FORMAC (FORmula MAnipulation Compiler). This was the first widely used general language and system for manipulating nonnumeric algebraic expressions. In 1979 she began handling Ada activities for IBM’s Federal Systems Division. Ada is a structured, object-oriented high-level computer programming language, designed for large, long-lived applications, where reliability and efficiency are paramount. Jean has a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and an M.A. from the University of Illinois, both in Mathematics. She received an honorary D.Sc. from Mount Holyoke (1978).

MATLAB graph
Cleve Moler

Cleve Moler improved the quality and accessibility of mathematical software and created a highly respected software system called MATLAB. He was a professor of mathematics and computer science for almost 20 years at the University of Michigan, Stanford University, and the University of New Mexico. In the late 1970’s to early 1980’s he developed several mathematical software packages to support computational science and engineering. These packages eventually formed the basis of MATLAB, a programming environment for algorithm development, data analysis, visualization, and numerical computation. MATLAB can be used to solve technical computing problems faster than with traditional programming languages, such as C, C++, and Fortran. Today, Professor Moler spends his time writing books, articles, and MATLAB programs.

Listen to what Professor Moler has to say about his life’s work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IT5umwNSAxE

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.

Cursor
James Dammann

If you have used a word processor today, moved your mouse on your laptop, dragged an object around on your smartphone, or highlighted a section of text on your tablet, you can thank Jim Dammann. In 1961 during his second year at IBM and just one year after completing his PhD, Jim created the concept of what today we all take for granted -- the cursor. This idea he documented in utilizing the cursor within word processing operations.

After retiring from IBM, Jim went on to inspire future generations of software engineers at Florida Atlantic University. His work there too demonstrated his creativity for he spent considerable effort enhancing their software engineering program by integrating ideas and feedback from local industries into the University curricular. Today, Jim lives in the Westlake Hills west of Austin Texas and spends most of his time in his art studio. He wrote and published The Opaque Decanter, a collection of poems about art, which provided a new view at part of art history.

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