Lesson Summary


In this lesson, students will analyze what the Internet is and its basic functionality. Students will learn how the Internet works and how the implementation of the Internet has affected our society. They will discuss the idea of the Internet as a delivery service to get bits from one place to another.


  • Students will explain the characteristics of the Internet and how the systems built on it influence their use.
  • Students will explain the difference between bandwidth and latency. 
  • Students will analyze relationships of data transfer over the systems within the Internet. 
  • Students will synthesize how data transfer and Internet systems are affected by the environment and needs of its users. 


  1. Getting Started (5 min) - Students discuss the difference between the Internet and a browser.
  2. Introduction (15 min) - Students explore how the Internet has grown over time and read from the "Blown to Bits" book.
  3. Guided Activity (13 min) - The path that the Internet uses to send and receive information is explored and diagrammed.  
  4. Demonstration (5 min) - The teacher presents the concept of bandwidth using different websites.
  5. Guided Activity (10 min) - The class discusses the uses of real-time Internet usage.
  6. Independent Activity (Optional)
  7. Wrap Up (2 min) - Students each present what they learned in the lesson.

Learning Objectives

CSP Objectives

Math Common Core Practice:

  • MP3: Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
  • MP5: Use appropriate tools strategically.
  • MP7: Look for and make use of structure.

Common Core ELA:

  • RST 12.2 - Determine central ideas and conclusions in the text
  • RST 12.4 - Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases
  • RST 12.6 - Analyze the author's purpose in providing an explanation, describing a procedure
  • RST 12.7 - Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media
  • RST 12.8 - Evaluate the hypotheses, data, analysis, and conclusions in a science or technical text
  • RST 12.9 - Synthesize information from a range of sources
  • RST 12.10 - Read and comprehend science/technical texts
  • WHST 12.6 - Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update writing products
  • WHST 12.7 - Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question
  • WHST 12.8 - Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the strengths and limitations of each source
  • WHST 12.9 - Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research

NGSS Practices:

  • 1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)

NGSS Content:

  • HS-ETS1-1. Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.

Key Concepts

The Internet and the systems built on it have a profound impact on society. 

Essential Questions

  • What is the Internet, how is it built, and how does it function?
  • What aspects of the Internet’s design and development have helped it scale and flourish?
  • How do economic, social, and cultural contexts influence innovation and the use of computing?

Lesson Plan

Getting Started (5 min) - Discussion: What is the Internet?

Start with a VERY brief class discussion: How does the Internet work?

Journal: what is the difference between the Internet and a browser? How are they connected?

  • Internet: A collection of systems working together to deliver data to the user. This includes email, video streaming, social media, websites, cloud storage like DropBox, etc.
  • Browser: Software applicaton designed to retrieve and display information from the world wide web, which is one part of the Internet, for the user. 

Introduction (15 min)

Part 1 - Activity (5 min)

(Use the optional Student Handout for Unit 3 Lesson 1 if desired to guide all of the activities in this lesson. There is an answer key to the student handout for teachers to use as well.)

Demonstrate, using the following resources, how the Internet has grown from the small ARPANET system to what it is today.

  1. ARPANET image: http://www.policy.hu/inetclass/arpaNet.html (from 1971)
  2. Today Show discussion on "What is the Internet?" (2:12 min):https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95-yZ-31j9A 
  3. Image representing today's Internet: http://googlemapsmania.blogspot.com/2013/12/mapping-internet-of-things.html (Note: zoom in to see the details, investigate your local area you can see your own school, experiment, this is fun, have students find 4 different things of 4 different colors)

Part 2 - Reading (10 min)

Students read the following sections from the "Blown to Bits" book (Online book link: http://www.bitsbook.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/B2B_3.pdf):

  • "The Internet as a Communication System"
  • "Packet Switching"
  • "Core and Edge"

These sections are on pages 301-303 in the pdf version.

Guided Activity (13 min)

Part 1 - Diagram (3-5 min)

Students create a diagram of how an email might travel from its start point to the end point.

Part 2 - Discussion (7-10 min)

  1. Discuss the flow of an email as a group. (Use this tool to supplement the understanding of the process:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Be2YnlRIg8  stop at about 50 seconds.
  2. Explain that packets are limited by "bandwidth" and "latency." The teacher may have the students read the following articles (both are relatively short) and lead a discussion after, or use them as resources for their own presentation. Measured in bits per second = how many bits arrive.

Demonstration (5 min)

Demonstrate how to test bandwidth using the following sites: 

Guided Activity (10 min)

  1. Use the Internet Usages Guide in the Lesson Resources folder to lead a discussion of real-time internet usage
  2. Look at types of questions that could be answered based on this tool:  http://www.akamai.com/html/technology/nui/industry/

Independent Activity (Optional)

Students should use the tool to come up with a question that can be answered by the tool.  Students write an analysis that asks the question, answers the question and provide proof of why the answer is correct by providing screenshots of the tool in their report. ( http://www.akamai.com/html/technology/nui/industry/ ) or http://www.internetlivestats.com/ for live Internet stats.

(Note: Students can possibly start this assignment in class, but will likely need to complete as homework.)

Wrap-up (2 min)

In this activity, students will each share one thing they have learned from this lesson. This can be done in several ways depending on time constraints or disabilities. All students should participate in some way before leaving the classroom.  

  • Have all students stand. In order to sit back down, students must share one thing they have learned to the class. (This may happen organically, or in a prescribed order.)  
  • If there is a disabled student for whom the standup/sit activity would not be an option, develop an alternative way to indicate who in the class has answered (such as having them raise their hands).
  • If there is a student who has difficulty speaking in front of the class or there isn't sufficient time, hand out index cards on which each student must write what they have learned, to be handed in as an exit ticket to leave the class.


Options for Differentiated Instruction

  • Students can share comparisons of assignments in small groups. 
  • Students can further explore net usage (using http://www.akamai.com/html/technology/dataviz1.html) specifically targeting mobile usage and/or broadband usage by geographical regions. Analyze the differences between these geographical regions of packet usage.  

Evidence of Learning

Formative Assessment

Using a real-time network tool that measures the number of views per minute, students generate a question that can be answered using this tool. They will then collect the data and write a report that answers this question. The report should use current real-time screenshots for data and examples. (Note: Students can possibly start this assignment in class, but will likely need to complete as homework.)

Summative Assessment

Possible question(s) to use for a future test:

  • What is the relationship between bandwidth and latency?
  • When using Internet tools to display data, what are some important factors that need to be considered to better understand the information being displayed?