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School Education

New method and equipment for teaching digital logic computer organization to high-school students

At the Computer Architecture and VLSI Design laboratory of the Institute of Computer Science of FORTH we are developing hands-on educational equipment and methodology for teaching Digital Logic and Computer Organization to High-School students.

The Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH) is a leading public Research Center in Greece, operating under the Ministry of Development and Investments, and collaborating very closely with the University of Crete. Besides research and development work, FORTH has also been and is heavily involved in educational activities.

With our 30-year background in designing simple hardware for high performance computing, and based on our 10-year experience in teaching digital design and computer organization to first-year students at the University of Crete using our own custom-made lab equipment, we are now developing novel hands-on hardware devices that we believe will be appropriate for teaching those same subjects to high-school students.

The degree by which Computer Science and Engineering have now penetrated our lives requires that students be educated about computers since high or even elementary school. This education must include the basic notions of digital logic and how computers operate (computer organization), and this topic is our target. Our experience has shown that it may be better to teach these topics in a novel manner, different from the traditional way in which "Digital Design" is being taught, and this is what we want to try in this project. We believe that education should use "hand-on" methods as much as possible, and that guides us in what we do: same as in other sciences, like physics, it is very important for children and students to touch prototypes, play with them, and see how they operate. We want to do precisely that: create an educational laboratory space that school students will be visiting, and where they will perform themselves laboratory exercises under the guidance of researchers as well as their own teachers.

FORTH already has a long experience in organizing visits by school classes to our research laboratories, of which we have been receiving many per year, for decades now. During these visits, students see demonstrations of systems and technologies, listen to presentations, have the opportunity to discuss with researchers, with the goal of understanding the applications of technology in modern life. In our Institute, we have also organized focused visits, e.g. on computer and internet safety, robotics, the history of computers, women in research, etc.