What are they answers for Lesson 4 of Unit 1? What is a Computer?

We had a lot of discussion on what items of the activity were computers and which ones were not. Are there answers on here?


I think that the point is for the students to be able to articulate why they think an item is/isn’t a computer. I had my students (8th gr) do an initial sort, then I had them switch spots with another group and each set put sticky notes on items they thought were in the wrong place. Then I asked each group to pick one item with a sticky note and explain WHY they had placed it in that location in the first place (so they explained why they thought that item was a computer or why they thought it wasn’t). We did not get to the video yet, but my plan is to have them watch the video, then decide if they need to make changes, and I will have them articulate WHY they made the change. I am just going with the idea that they are developing their ideas and as they stated in the guide ‘experts don’t always agree what things are/aren’t computers’. Tomorrow I hope they will make the connection that there must be some sort of processing going on. Some of them made that today with the thumb drive - “the thumb drive needs the computer to actually ‘do the stuff’ to it”…


I have a similar question on what the answers are. I have a pretty good definition for what is a computer but I do have questions when it comes to things like a microwave or telephone. These devices many times have microcontrollers that do one task, but I had students argue for it being a computer as you get an input/output, something has to translate that task to something and the instructions are somewhere for it to execute that task. I want my students to discover but I don’t want to be providing the wrong information :confused:

I like @ltucker’s comment above that often experts don’t agree on questions like this. In my own (non-expert) opinion, I like when they leave with no definitive answer on this one. It requires them to do some critical thinking and defending of their own opinions and in the end, if they disagree, that’s ok with me. Things like a microwave may not by strict definition be a computer, but I won’t disagree with a student who defends their choice. It’s hard sometimes (for students and teachers) to accept that some problems don’t have a clean answer all of the time. But, that’s just my opinion!


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