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TCP/IP: How Messages Get Delivered Across the Internet


This lesson explains the concept of a protocol stack and the basic functions of TCP/IP by using a postal example.

Lesson Objectives

At the conclusion of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • Identify from a given scenario which activities are accomplished by IP, TCP, and upper-level protocols
  • Use the correct vocabulary when discussing data communications related to the protocol stack and TCP/IP
  • Describe the difference in how the physical address and the IP address are used in moving traffic from one node to another on the internet
  • Research networking topics online

Target Population

This lesson is aimed at middle school or high school students who do not have a background in network protocols.


45 minutes with lab and exercises

Supplies and Equipment

  • Machine to display PowerPoint presentation(.ppt/2.1mb). Note: the presentation includes extensive notes that explain the slides and provide further details.
  • A computer for tracing internet traffic, performing a ping, and running ipconfig

Understanding Computer Viruses

This lesson is suitable for middle school or high school levels. Given the level of threats we experience from computer viruses today, this is a worthwhile lesson for all students.


In this lesson, students will:

  1. Learn how computer viruses and other malware attack computer systems
  2. Differentiate between front-door and back-door attacks
  3. Gain strategies for preventing both types of attacks
  4. Think critically about what computer viruses are capable of doing and the effects of computer viruses on our society

Time Required to Teach the Lesson

  • One to two hours of lecture
  • One to two hours for students to complete worksheets (computer with internet access is required)

This lesson includes a classroom instructional period with class participation, followed by a lab in which students could complete a worksheet alone or in groups. The lesson could be expanded to include a discussion following the lab and/or more in-depth reports done by students outside of class. For example, you could have an open-ended discussion of the ethics of "hacking computers,” the impacts of malicious programs on individuals and society as a whole, and the opportunity to use technical skills to benefit society instead.

Use these PowerPoint slides (ppt/322K) to guide the classroom instruction and discussion. Many of the slides' bullets are framed in a question and answer format. Ask students to brainstorm or contribute ideas before the answer-" is revealed.

The worksheet (.pdf/34K) is a combination of review questions from the classroom instruction and open-ended investigation questions, which are best answered through online searches. In this way, students learn about valuable online resources and research practices. While the classroom instructional material should be accessible to a wide variety of ages and backgrounds, you may want to modify the questions to make the exercise shorter or easier depending on the background and interest of your students. The worksheet key (.pdf/34K) is also included.

Students will need to go online to complete many of the questions on the worksheet on their own. You can also assign the worksheet as a group activity using a single computer and a projector.

If the students are working on a computer, give them the worksheet as a Microsoft Word file and allow them to add their answers to the file. This is especially helpful when saving their netstat output or copying definitions they find online Encourage them to note their sources for anything referenced or copied as good practice in knowing the difference between citing a reference and plagiarizing.

This lesson will help your students better understand the threat of computer viruses —different ways they spread, what types of things viruses can do, why viruses are created, and what they can do to defend against them. It is a good opportunity both to teach them practical skills that will help them prevent damage to their computers as well as an opportunity to talk about some of the new ethical challenges posed by the Internet.

Using the CIA World Factbook: An Internet, Word Processing, and Webpage Design Project


This project is designed to help students to explore the CIA's World Factbook and collect data for presentation in print and online formats.

Using the CIA World Factbook: An Internet, Word Processing, and Webpage Design Project (.pdf/139kb)