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Birth of Bits and Bytes

Build a flow chart to show the early achievements of computer scientists in the early days of the modern computer.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Directions

    1. Students research the development of modern computer technology using library and electronic resources. Find out about the ENIAC, the first computer, which was introduced on February 14, 1946. Discuss the origins of the modern computer and the use of flow charts to create programming.
    2. On poster board, use a ruler and Crayola® Markers to map out an array of blocks and arrows to resemble a flow chart.
    3. In each block, and in chronological order, write the date and brief information about various developments in computer technology.
    4. Add a jagged line border at top and bottom with various marker colors. Stop at flow chart blocks to give the illusion that the border continues beneath the blocks. Make small line drawings of researchers and scientists in empty spaces.
  • Standards

    LA: Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.

    LA: By the end of the year, read and comprehend literary nonfiction in grade level text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

    LA: Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade level reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.

    LA: Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally)and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study.

    SS: Identify and use various sources for reconstructing the past, such as documents, letters, diaries, maps, textbooks, photos, and others.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of their ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Challenge pairs of students to research information using only electronic resources. Record findings on paper in the form of a flow chart (using if/then or yes/no statements) and show the various avenues taken. Collaborate with information technology specialists to learn more about programming.

    Locate appropriate electronic resources for younger students. Provide a note-taking form to fill out with ideas. Children trace rectangular pieces of cardboard to create a wall-size flow chart.

    Interview people who remember what life was like before computers. How did people write stories and reports? How were inventions designed? How were financial records kept? What information resources were available?

    Encourage students to research the lives and personalities of well-known personalities in the computer/tech world, such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, etc. Organize research into an electronic format for presentation to classmates.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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