Computer hardware engineering

A list of resources about computer hardware engineering.

Links and Resources

Structure and function of a processor

This resource consists of two presentations on the structure of the CPU.  As well as detailing the different components e.g. ALU, registers and buses it compares different types of processor and different architectures e.g. CISC vs RISC. This topic is dealt with in more detail in the second presentation.

publication year
2010 to date

2 files

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RISC vs CISC starter activity

This is quick starter activity for A-level students aged 17-18. The aim of the activity is to revise the key differences between RISC and CISC processors and to ensure students can explain which architecture should be used in a given situation.

publication year
2010 to date

2 files

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Fetch-decode-execute-plot

This is an unplugged resource to simulate the fetch-decode-execute cycle in a processor. It is a frantic starter activity aimed at students aged 17-18. The teacher acts as the computer memory, passing out instructions to the students. The students take on three different roles, fetcher, decoder and executer.  At the end of the session the students will have worked together to plot an image onto their group’s worksheet.

publication year
2010 to date

5 files

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CPU worksheet

This worksheet is aimed at GCSE students aged 14 - 16. It is best used as a plenary activity at the end of the unit, after the students have been introduced to the fetch-decode-execute cycle and simple assembly code. Alternatively, the resource could be used as a home-learning task or an end of topic assessment.

publication year
2010 to date

1 file

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Hardware-inside the computer

This is a set of resources for students aged between 11 and 13, focusing on the internal components of a computer. The main presentation introduces the topic and contains links to external resources. Students are challenged to create storyboards and short stories to retell how the components work together. The lesson is well scaffolded, using differentiated worksheets to support the most and least able. The final resource is short assessment to ensure that students have made progress.

publication year
2010 to date

7 files

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Internal components of a computer

This mind-map is a great revision tool for students aged 14 -16.  It covers the main components of a computer system including the CPU, memory and storage devices. Ideally, the students would complete their own mind-maps at the end of the topic. This sheet could then be used as a reference for the teacher or if printed out as an aide-memoire on the board or classroom display.

publication year
2010 to date

1 file

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How does your home network work?

This resource contains an unplugged activity to model how home networks work. It builds up to increasingly more complex networks, adding in details such as routers, wifi access points and the internet along the way. The lesson plan contains links to the Progression Pathways documentation, and differentiation ideas for delivering the content. The presentation takes students through, building increasingly complex networks (by adding to the previous network) using cards and connectors to model the network. The resources for these cards are included at the end of the Presentation. The activity finishes with a model of a network and some vocabulary, the students are then asked to tell the story of how a data packet moves from one device to another across the network using all of the vocabulary, listed. There is a focus throughout on the Computational Thinking ideas of Abstraction and Decomposition. 

publication year
2010 to date

5 files

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