Free Intel Learning kit good for teachers &
by Alan Zisman
(c) 1998. First
published in Toronto Computes,
The Journey Inside: The Computer
free to Grade 4-9 teachers
You don?t need to know how a car or a TV works in
order to use them.
Put the key in the ignition, turn, and go. Click on the remote control.
Similarly, most of us are reasonably comfortable
tasks on a computer without really having much of an idea of what?s
on inside the box.
Despite that, some of us need to know what?s going on
in there. After
all, somebody?s got to design and build these machines, don?t they?
Intel is the company that designs, builds, and markets
over 80% of the
central processing units (CPUs) that power the world?s computers.
aware that for continued growth, they?ll need a continuing supply of
and skilled people. And they know that the first steps towards ensuring
that supply have to take place in the public schools, where even at the
elementary grades, students need to be exposed to computers. And not
getting to use computers, but also getting the beginnings of an
of how computers work? a task made more difficult since most teachers,
like most of the rest of us, are more than little vague on the details.
The company is trying to help teachers get past the
mystery of the beige
They?ve recently released the third generation of a
free kit ?The Journey
Inside: The Computer, aimed at teachers of grades four through nine,
first distributed to over 3,500 Canadian teachers in 1994. Available to
teachers, by phoning Intel at 1-800-346-3029, The Journey Inside
of three components. There?s a teachers guide (including handouts
and overheads) and a teachers video. A classroom video includes 8
8-10 minute lessons. And there?s a hands-on kit, allowing students to
circuits and begin to get a hands-on understanding of the basics of
All the parts required for the electronics projects
LED lights, transistors. This is one kit where batteries are definitely
included?seemingly enough batteries to outfit a Radio Shack outlet. In
addition, (my favorite) there?s a collection of actual computer
in the package?a real Pentium chip, and even a silicon wafer?a step in
the manufacture of several dozen CPUs. (These are parts that failed the
reliability tests, but are valuable in letting teachers and students
their hands on the real thing, helping to make computers less
The electronic parts, video tapes, printed materials,
shipping adds up to a couple of hundred dollars per kit, according to
Doug Cooper, who hopes to be able to get copies of the latest edition
the hands of about 7,000 Canadian teachers.
The lessons are well-designed, each including a basic
lesson, and a
more advanced extension lesson, allowing teachers to easily adapt the
to the level of their students. Each lesson is designed to take about a
half hour of classroom time.The package starts off with an introduction
to computers, then looks at circuits and switches as the basis of
It continues by introducing the important concept of digital
leading to an examination of microprocessors, and how chips are
Finally, it moves on to examine networks, look at the impact of
on society, and ends with a view of the future.
Many parents and teachers are understandably uneasy
penetration of the classroom; while the package clearly identifies
as an Intel project, no one need fear it as brainwashing our children.
The material itself does not extol Intel or its products, and is
as usable in classrooms with non-Intel computers like Macs (or in
with no computers at all).
Hats off to Intel for producing and distributing this
and well-implemented package, and for making it freely available to