Teach Computing

Revision notes, activities, lesson plans, teaching ideas, and other resources for GCSE, A-Level, and IB Computer Science teachers and students.

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Examples of Local Cryptocurrencies

Digital Money for Local Communities covers three examples of country-wide c...

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Cryptocurrencies vs regular currencies

What is Bitcoin and How Does it Work? is a high level overview of the Bitco...

Examples of Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin is by far the most well known cryptocurrency. The Bitcoin website w...

Practice paper 3 exam questions

One of the drawbacks of the yearly case study is that there are no past p...

Emergency Management System Explainer Video

This short video gives an overview of some EMIS features. It includes many ...

Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

For some functionality, an EMIS may also be connected to a GIS (Geographic ...

Programming languages - from Scratch to machine code

The CS Field Guide has a very comprehensive guide to different types of pro...

Assembly language simulators

There are several assembly language simulators available for use online. Si...

Resources discount offer

4.2 Hardware

Lesson resources

Hardware and software revision activity
Hardware & Software revision
Hardware banned words game
Hardware revision game
Introduction to hardware lesson
Computer hardware lesson pack
Computer hardware keyword bingo game
Computer hardware keyword bingo game
Computer Science wordsearch pack
Computer Science word search pack
Computer Science crosswords pack
Computer Science crosswords pack
Recommended IGCSE Computer Science textbooks
Edexcel Computer Science textbooks

4.2.1 Hardware components of a computer system

Input and output

BBC Bitesize

BBC Bitesize covers a wide range of input and output devices. Key concepts are clearly explained. The great thing about the BiteSize site is that it links to a series of related resources, including student activities, news article links, and online dictionaries and encyclopedias.

Updated: 2015-04-07


IGCSE ICT has notes on many topics (including input and output devices) that are useful for a range of ICT and Computing courses. The notes are very comprehensive, clearly divided into sections, well illustrated, and easily understandable for students. This is a good starting point for a lot of topics - not just for the IGCSE course.

Updated: 2015-04-07


TeachICT: detailed notes covering printers, screens, speakers, and more. Teach-ICT does have a range of activities for most topics, though they tend to be a bit gamey and only really appealing to younger students.

Updated: 2015-04-07

BBC Bitesize: Data Storage

Covers all aspects of primary and secondary storage devices, including interactive lesson activities, notes, and a revision quiz. Well illustrated, this page also details the relative advantages and disadvantages of each storage medium.

Updated: 2015-04-25

IGCSE ICT: Storage

Although targetted at the IGCSE ICT syllabus, this site still has a lot of useful information for other courses. Their section on storage covers different types of storage media and storage devices, including optical, magnetic, and solid state systems. They also have a section on backing up data.

Updated: 2015-04-25

TeachICT: Storage

Teach-ICT is a popular site which covers the basic topics of computer science - in this case, with notes on secondary storage devices and comparisons in terms of capacity, speed, portability, durability, and reliability. It also has a small section on online storage (cloud computing)

Updated: 2015-04-25
Computer storage devices

Storage Devices

Computer Hope has a good overview of storage devices. The page divides storage hardware into optical, magnetic, and solid state devices, and there are links to sub-pages with much more information. The content is clearly presented and easy to read, making it very accessible for students.
Updated: 2015-09-16

Edexcel GCSE Computer Science: The Processor (CPU)

Some of the details (such as static RAM) are not strictly necessary for the Edexcel syllabus, but may be useful for some students. This video explains the different types of memory (RAM, ROM, cache), the components of the CPU (including the buses), and how these relate to assembly language and machine code. A very detailed revision resource.

Updated: 2016-10-17

Edexcel GCSE Computer Science: Hardware

This video covers the input, output, and storage technologies from the topic 4.2 Hardware.

Updated: 2016-10-17
Computer systems lesson plan

Lesson resources - Computer Systems

Lesson 1 - Computer Systems guides students through basic computing hardware. There are tasks to identify and describe input and output devices as well as label the internal components of the computer.

This lesson is one of the many excellent resources provided under CC-NC-SA by Mr Colley. I've added a PDF version of the original .pub documents included in the zip for those who don't have Microsoft Publisher.

Updated: 2017-10-15
Storage devices lesson plan

Lesson resources - Storage devices

This download contains PowerPoint presentations, worksheets, and Internet resources for the topic storage devices. It includes a comparison of the types of devices and their properties.

This lesson is one of the many excellent resources provided under CC-NC-SA by Mr Colley.

Updated: 2017-10-15
Computer hardware worksheet

Worksheet: Hardware roles

To help Computer Science students understand hardware, resource allocation, and resource management, it is helpful to have them first understand the roles each component plays in a computer system. This simple worksheet covers the key resources in a computer system, with space for examples, relevant units, and a brief description of the component's role. It is useful from early topics in GCSE Computer Courses up to the IB Computer Science HL topic Resource Management.

Download the worksheet

Updated: 2017-10-17
Input output crossword

Input output crossword

A simple crossword testing students' understanding of input and output devices.

Updated: 2017-10-24
Input output activity

Input - output starter / plenary

A short task that gets students to consider the input and output devices used in less common situations: in an aircraft cockpit and on an artist's design workstation.

Updated: 2017-10-24
Spot the mistakes classroom activity

Spot the mistakes exercises

The slides in this presentation present basic 'facts' about computing fundamentals: input, output, binary, hexadecimal, and data representation. Each slide contains a number of basic mistakes (highlighted on the following slide). Students simply need to read through the text, spot the mistakes - and correct them. These activities work well as quick lesson starters or plenaries to check understanding.

Updated: 2017-10-24

4.2.2 Memory (RAM, ROM, cache, virtual memory)

Main memory

Main Memory

This video examines the three main types of of main memory and explains the purpose of each. It also highlights common confusion surrounding between RAM, ROM, cache, and registers. Each memory type is compared in terms of speed, capacity, cost, and volatility.

Updated: 2017-11-12

4.2.3 The CPU

How computers work activity

How Computers Work - Kinesthetic Activity

In this kinesthetic activity students act out the roles of the Arithmetic and Logic Unit (ALU), the CPU, the memory, and the display as they act out how these basic hardware components function by "running" sample programs. This is a great way of introducing the basic concepts before moving on to more advanced machine architecture. You can download the following sheets:

This activity was created by Gary Kacmarcik from cse4k12.org and is licensed under the Creative Commons CC-SA licence.

Updated: 2015-04-25
Little Man Computer simulator

Little Man Computer (LMC)

The Little Man Computer (LMC) is a software simulator of a simple computer with a CPU, memory, and a basic instruction set. Students can enter programs in either assembly language or machine code and follow their execution by watching the change state of the program counter, accumulator, and memory. More advanced versions show animated representations of the address and data lines too. The LMC is a great tool for helping students visualise how code and data are represented in memory and how the fetch-execute cycle works.

There are now many versions of the LMC available. Some of the best include:

Most of these versions of the LMC include instructions but probably the clearest explanation of the instruction set is from Durham University.
Updated: 2019-03-19
Von Neumann

The CPU and Von Neumann Architecture

This video covers the components of the CPU such as the Control Unit (CU) and the Arithmetic and Logic Unit (ALU). It also explains the fetch-decode-execute model of the Von Neumann architecture.

Updated: 2017-11-12

4.2.4 Factors that affect CPU performance

CPU Performance

Factors Affecting CPU Performance

This video is designed specifically for the Edexcel IGCSE Computer Science syllabus. The CPU's clock speed and its relationship to the fetch-decode-execute cycle is explained. Then cache and multi-core CPUs are examined to explain how they affect the overall speed of a processor. The video is quite heavy on theory, but that is the nature of the topic.

Updated: 2017-11-12

4.2.5 How data is stored

4.2.6 Cloud storage

4.2.7 Embedded Systems

Embedded systems

Embedded Systems video

This short video is a good over of embedded systems, covering the main points and including all-important examples.

Updated: 2018-12-08