This is an outline of an activity we usually do at the beginning of any of our workshops. It’s a good way to understand what students already know and get an idea of what they want to know.
Objective: Understand that the internet is made up of physical objects in the world, and be able to identify those objects in the world
Ask students the following questions about the internet (or ask them to write down their answers). (5-10 minutes)
Have students work in small groups (3-4) to make drawings illustrating their answers to that last question about how the internet works. (15-20 minutes)
Each group takes 3-5 minutes to present their drawings of the internet to the class. Hang the drawings on the wall. (15-20 minutes)
Give a short presentation on the different real-world objects that make up the internet (routers, cables, antennae, data centers, and more), showing pictures and examples of things that students might encounter out on the street or in their homes if they went looking for the internet.
Note on presentation of images: We have lots of images on this website that are good for reference, but it might be a good idea to make your own based on using examples of things in your own city or town. Local examples are super-useful.
Give students handouts (again, ours or make your own!) with a breakdown of different objects to look for (10 minutes)
Optional: Field Trip! Take the students for a walk to look for some examples of the internet that they might run into on the street. The success of this activity kind of depends on whether the area you’re in has lots of relevant things to look at/for, scouting out the workshop location is kind of crucial here (30-45 minutes).