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Networks almost unplugged

Duncan Maidens, Raspberry Pi Foundation


In this session we will explore computer networking (almost) unplugged. The session is based on simple battery operated network boxes that have been used successfully with KS1 to KS4 pupils to explore and develop network protocols. Activities can start with simple light sequences representing different letter and be extended to include binary representation and ASCII codes. Attempting to send long messages (sequences of letters) leads to the realisation that additional control codes (such as STOP, START, ACK and NACK) are needed to demarcate the beginning and end of sequences and to handle errors. It is also possible to use the boxes to "send" 8x8 black and white pictures. The following youtube videos show the boxes in action in a school: and .

Relevant Key Stages: KS1, KS2, KS3, KS4

Duncan Maidens's biography

Duncan Maidens graduated from University of Newcastle upon Tyne with a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering in 1987. He started working life as BBC engineer followed by a period as a Royal Navy Instructor Officer. After returning to University and gaining an MSc in Data Telecoms and Computer Networks, Duncan progresses through several research and teaching position at Salford and Staffordshire Universities. Joining BCU in 2001, he led a team of Networking Specialists running the Cisco Academy Program. Whilst at BCU he became involved in CAS, running master teacher training, a CAS Regional Centre then becoming a Regional Delivery Partner as part of the NCCE. In May 2019 he joined the Raspberry Pi Foundation as Director of Computer Science Education.

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