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Lesson plans

Explore'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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Bletchley Park
Dr. Sue Black
Dr. Sue Black

Dr. Sue Black has demonstrated the power of social networking. She used Web 2.0 technologies to help raise awareness of, and critical funding for, Bletchley Park, the UK World War II center for decrypting enemy messages. She has also been an active campaigner for equality and support for women in technology fields, founding a number of online networking platforms for women technology professionals. A keen researcher, Dr. Black completed a PhD in software measurement in 2001. Her research interests focus on software quality improvements. She has recently won the PepsiCo Women's Inspiration Network award, been named Tech Hero by ITPRO magazine and was awarded the first John Ivinson Award from the British Computer Society. In 2011 Dr. Black set up The goto Foundation, a nonprofit organization which aims to make computer science more meaningful to the public, generate public excitement in the creation of software, and build a tech savvy workforce. Read Sue's blog about The goto Foundation:

Gordon and SenseCam QUT
Gordon Bell
Gordon and SenseCam QUT

Gordon Bell is a pioneering computer designer with an influential career in industry, academia and government. He graduated from MIT with a degree in electrical engineering. From 1960, at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), he designed the first mini- and time-sharing computers and was responsible for DEC's VAX as Vice President of R&D, with a 6 year sabbatical at Carnegie Mellon University. In 1987, as NSF’s first, Ass't Director for Computing (CISE), he led the National Research Network panel that became the Internet. Bell maintains three interests: computing, lifelogging, and startup companies—advising over 100 companies. He is a Fellow of the, Association of Computing Machinery, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, and four academies. He received The 1991 National Medal of Technology. He is a founding trustee of the Computer History Museum, Mountain View, CA. and is an Researcher Emeritus at Microsoft. His 3 word descriptor: Computing my life; computing, my life.

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

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).

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.

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