Need for Speed

Robert Andrews
October 5, 1999
10th, 11th and 12th Grade
Introduction to the Internet

Materials Needed:
Whiteboard and markers, Internet research terminal.

Time Needed:
One week for startup, two weeks until final report is due.

Behavioral Objective:
10th, 11th and 12th grade students will apply their understanding of how the internet works to produce a three to five page written report which evaluates at least four aspects of the internet and provides ideas for improvement. Students will have the choice of what aspects to investigate in their report.

In today's technologically advanced world, the Internet, especially web pages, are key to business. By knowing what is needed to fully process a web page, the students will have a better understanding of how information is transferred.

Anticipatory Set:
Students will be told about what they will be learning today and how that will help them understand the Internet with more detail. The topic will be presented in a dialog with students. Start with talking about how long it took to download a web page. Man, I wish there were a way that we could speed the whole process. They will be questioned as to if they use computers and/or the Internet at home. Have you ever been at home or with a friend working on a computer and the Internet and waiting for the page to load or the file to transfer? What web sites do the students visit? What is on those pages? Graphics, text, videos, sounds? What could you do to speed up the time it takes? From there, questions regarding the time it takes to load pages will be discussed and compared to the time at school. If we do it from school, it seems to go much faster. What causes this increase? Also, variants in the time it takes to load pages will be discussed. Well, when a page is transferred, there are a lot of components that go into loading the page. Let's look at each of these parts in detail. So how can we make it faster? Students will work in groups to talk about web pages they visit and the time it takes to load them.

Understanding how the web page appears on our screens is very important to fully grasp how the Internet works. You will also have time to study how each of these items could be improved. Understanding all the components of this process is the basis for this course.

Students will be questioned as to how they think the Internet works. The teacher will then fill in any blanks that the students left out as well as filling in detail on each item. The items to be evaluated include, but are not limited to:

  • Transmitting Server
    • hard drive type (DMA, IDE, EIDE, SCSI)
    • amount of RAM
    • processor speed
    • load (amount of work the server is really doing)
    • connection to the Internet (see below)
    • software running (NT, Linux, Apache)
  • Receiving Computer
    • hardware (processor speed, RAM)
    • connection (see below)
    • software
      • OS (Windows 9x, 3.1x, NT, Mac Solaris, Linux)
      • Browser (IE, Netscape, Mosaic)
  • Connection Type
    • Dial up modem (28.8, 33.6, 56k, very common)
    • Cable modem (availability limited)
    • xDSL (Digital Subscriber Line, becoming standard)
    • satellite feed (costly, needs modem as well)
    • fiber (used for long runs in companies)
    • T1, T3 (high speed, very expensive)
    • OC-3, OC-12, ATM (used for backbones)
  • Provider
    • ISP (Internet service provider their modems, connection type, load on system)
    • NSP (Network service provider provide service to ISP, physical integrity)
  • Files Transmitted
    • size (of each file, # of files, pages, graphics)
    • format (file types - html, asp, gif, jpg, mp3, avi, and wav)
    • programming (how pages are made, least code to complete task)
    • protocol (used to send files, TCP/IP, Ethernet, IP2)
This is a list of the components that could be covered in the final report. The report will include the status quo as well as theories and ideas about how these could be improved.

Check for Understanding:
Students will be called individually to answer questions relating to the different aspects listed above. The student may not know anything about the topic, but brainstorming on the topic is highly encouraged since this is the basis for the final report. So what do you know about different types of hardware? How does one program a web page? Why are there so many different types of files from graphics? Other students will be called on to add additional comments. Students will also be encouraged to ask any questions at anytime during the discussion. Students will also be filling out electronic exit slips at the end of class to tell the teacher what they are confused about.

The teacher will offer ideas on how they would expand around one of the subjects. For example, on the transmitting server, how does the traffic, or load, on the server affect time. If the server is handling 5,000 hits a day, there should not be any trouble. But what about over one million hits an hour? If the right hardware is used, this is not a problem. The IBM Olympic server handled this load with only one mainframe computer. Could the time be helped and improved by having multiple servers? If we are handling several thousand emails a day, then the web performance may decrease. What if we separate the web and email components? What if more RAM was installed in the computer? By installing more RAM, the operating system will be able to handle the load easier. Will a change in operating systems help? Some operating systems are better suited for web servers, such as the many versions of UNIX, while others, like DOS, are not. Even in the world of Windows, NT will perform much better than 98.

Guided Practice:
The students will be allowed to start research during class time, if they choose to do so. The students will also have a class period in which they will have four 10-minute conferences with a small group of their choosing to discuss different ideas. The teacher will circulate to answer questions and to prevent general chat. Each person will have to turn in a write up at the end of class that states what he or she discussed during each of the four conferences. Students will also turn in their rough drafts of the papers. This will allow the teacher to provide feedback to students on the progress of their paper.

Independent Practice:
Students will complete and turn in a three to five page written report that discusses at least four different aspects of the Internet. The report on each section will include the status quo as well as ideas for improvement in each area. A brief discussion on why this improvement is not used/more widely used will also be included. A bibliography and works cited page must be included in addition to the report. This report is to be typed and double spaced.

Students will fill out an electronic exit slip to be submitted over email from my web page at The exit slip includes the following questions: what have they learned, what point they are currently at, and what items they are confused about. This will be done after each class period. The students will also have a large group meeting where each will mention what areas they wrote about as well as their ideas after the report is turned in. After this introduction, there will be a general discussion regarding what they learned, as well as what, if anything, they are going to do with the information they learned.


© Copyright
Robert Andrews
All pages, scripts, and graphics.