While teaching students coding concepts and how to use Word is becoming the norm, it is also important for teens to learn the basics of computer hardware. Take the ‘black box’ mystery away by explaining what the parts inside the machine actually do; this will help student to be able to troubleshoot problems when using their computers.
Take apart an old desktop computer
Nothing is better for hands on learning than actually getting out a screwdriver and taking something apart! Old desktop computers are great because they were often made to be taken apart and customized. Your teenager can then see the memory (and know how to replace it), find the hard drive (and understand the difference from a solid state drive), understand the different ports and what they do, and, if the desktop is old enough, get a quick lesson in things like modems and how the internet works. The ideas are endless! But there are serious safety concerns here as well. Be sure that the computer has been unplugged for several days before taking it apart, and also be sure that your student does not play around within the power supply. This is a great time to learn about capacitors and safety around electricity. Have your student look up capacitors before opening the case on a desktop so that they know what they look like and why not to touch them.
Here is a detailed video on taking apart a desktop computer (You may only want to watch the first half): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctAVC2JwEwI
First released in 2012, Raspberry Pi is a very basic computer without a case. At $35, this is an affordable way to introduce students to all of the components of a computer. The Raspberry Pi 3 (64 bit quad core processor) comes with integrated wifi and bluetooth to make it easier to connect to the internet and keyboard. It has an HDMI port to allow connections to a TV or monitor, speaker output, a LAN port and four USB ports. I’ve used the Raspberry Pi with students and it is an excellent way to introduce them to operating systems, hardware components, and much more. There are tons of educational lessons available to use along with the Raspberry Pi.
Kano Computer Kit
The Kano Computer Kit includes a Raspberry Pi along with all of the peripherals needed to get started. It has a wireless keyboard, case for the Pi, memory card, cables, diy speaker, and a book on getting started. This is a great kit for anyone who is not comfortable just getting started on their own with a Raspberry Pi.