Class Simulation of a Computer

Note: This activity is a work in progress

This activity exposes the idea that interesting things can be achieved using a simple instruction set and components, giving an idea of the underlying architecture of the computer.

Variation: introduce a bug in the code, and see how long it takes the class to realise that things aren’t right

Variation: write some code to generate an interesting output (such as the Fibonacci series) and see if the “computer” can figure out what the program does.

Related Resources

  • Misha Leder, a Software Engineer at Google has an activity called Simulating a Computer where kids play main computer components – CPU, mouse, IO controller. Have them simulate calculator application by moving a mouse, synchronizing it with the mouse pointer on the screen and sending request to the processor.
  • Computer Science & Engineering for K-12 (cse4k12.org) has the following activities related to how computers and internet works below:
    • How Computers Work Activity is an activity for 3 students to act out the various parts of a computer: CPU, ALU/Memory and Display.
    • How the Internet Works Activity i an activity for a group of students to act out the various parts of the internet: websites, routers, nameservers, ISPs and home computers.