Hardware – Custom PC Task

PCI Slot

When teaching about hardware, we usually use the internet and text books to read up on individual components and how they work.  Looking back on what I have done in the past, I have realised that learning about components in isolation is not a great way of gaining an understanding of how computers work.  This term, I did something a little different (although definitely not ground breaking!).

I got a couple of old machines and took them apart as I spoke to the class.  Then as each component emerged from the increasingly cannibalised case I passed it around the class.  It was incredible to see the increase in interest just from the fact that the pupils were actually handling something.  I was also embarrassingly surprised at the number of pupils that didn’t know quite how small a CPU was!  To consolidate this interest, the pupils were then asked to find the components to make their own custom PCs.

This task has also been a revelation, as it made me realise that in the past I hadn’t spoken about different types of motherboards and CPU sockets; nor had I spent much time talking about different types of RAM or buying them in matched pairs.  By actually handling the parts and talking about building their own machines, it has prompted more chats about the smaller details that would normally get overlooked.

The amount of discussion in the class has been great, especially as for the high end machine the pupils do not have a budget!  One pupil has chosen 4 x 60″ 3D screens for his high end machine!  He now has to investigate exactly how far back he would need to sit to be able to see them!

I am so pleased that such a small change to my delivery has made a larger than expected change to the pupils interest!  The brief sheet that I gave the pupils after our classroom discussions can be downloaded here. Hardware – Custom PC Task


2 comments on “Hardware – Custom PC Task

  1. Sounds great! Have you tried just handing out bits of computer hardware without any explanation – get the students to research completely unaided. Amazing engagement when I tried it with Year 7 students!

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