Human-Computer modeling

Breathing life into electronic components that make up modern computer systems.

Activity 1:Study the components

We'll explore how each of these works as we locate the actual hardware

  1. Power Supply - Direct Current, 3-5 volts
  2. Motherboard
  3. - the home for all the computer components
  4. Central Processing Unit (CPU) - or "the processor"
  5. Random Access Memory (RAM) - Volatile (disappears without power)
  6. Non-volatile storage devices (Hard Drive, CD-ROMs, etc.)
  7. Expansion Cards and Slots (Video cards, network interface cards, etc.)
  8. Data Input devices (CD-ROM, Floppy drives)
  9. And the rest are Peripherals (speakers, expanded port components)

Use this comparison chart to record your findings about which components in the bags carry out which functions on the computer.

Component descriptions

Core components for your model along with restraints on their operation within the system:

Power Supply

Each component in the system requires a "token" of power to do a single calculation. Flow is only out from this component. The tokens can be made out of paper with some distinctive symbol on it. Power supplies should make their own tokens.

User input devices

Translates human actions (pushing keys, waving, etc.) into computer signals that are processed by the computer's brains. The input devices only know how to output information to the other components. The user should devise some sort of paper token with a shape or symbol on which to simulate sending a value into the computer.

Hard Drive

Maintains permanent storage for the system, even when powered down. Hard Drives only know how to process signals from the motherboard. Hard drives accept incoming signals and return data. This component can only store photos with matching object ID numbers (the ten digit numbers). The hard drive should devise some sort of token for information that it can receive and a token on which to transfer the data that is retrieved from the drive.

Central Processing Unit

Can conduct quick look-up tasks, in our case, the CPU can connect a user input value ("I want famous person number 3") into a database object ID number (564888923). The CPU and RAM cannot store any images. Together, they can only process a text table to translate between a user ID number and a hard drive object id numbers. The CPU and the RAM need to devise a system for passing information to one another--such as a small "form" on which to write the result of the calculations.

Motherboard Bus

This part transfers information between components on the motherboard. The motherboard Bus does not have it's own tokens. It's role is to move other components' tokens to and from one another.

Random Access Memory

Stores any information the CPU might need to do its tasks. All data is stored here in RAM unless it is immediately being acted on by the processor. The data that the ram can store in its short-term memory is a table that correlates the user input number and the database object ID. The RAM and CPU must work together to create a system for this translation process.

Computer monitor

Output only device that retrieves signals from the motherboard and displays them to the user. In this activity's case, the monitor will be displaying names and photos of selected famous people to invite to our end-of-class presentations.

Exercise 2: Human Modeling project instructions

  1. Create a flow diagram that shows each component and the flow between them. Make note of the type of flow between components and design a set of tokens that represent each type of flow. For example, electricity flows could be represented by triangular paper slips.
  2. Once you have a drawing that you're happy with of this flow, create a digital version of this system using MS Powerpoint or the Google document drawing plug-ins.
  3. Design a component name card for each team member. Include the following information on the card:
  4. Design, print, and cut out cards representing each type of flow through the components.Components should make the tokens they'll be using in cooperation with other connected components.
  5. A digitized version of the system's flow diagram. Each person in the team should make his/her own version of this diagram so as to get practice creating a system process.
  6. Gather the group and practice your process of selecting 10 celebrities for inviting to our class presentations. Practice until you can smoothly execute the operations required to load photos from the database.