Teacher's Guide

Purpose of this site

My intention in putting together these resources was not to provide a comprehensive history of telecommunications. That has already been done elsewhere on the internet.

Neither would I expect a teacher to use everything on this site to prepare their students for a visit to the museum. Only use those resources you feel most comfortable with.

Feel free to send me feedback, additional ideas or other material you think might be useful. I can be reached at: stem@dhellam.purplenet.co.uk 

With a number of sections, I have also included links to related resources that you might find interesting to explore at a later date.

Equipment Required (Technical Stuff)

The site was designed to look its best with Microsoft Internet Explorer version 5 on an 800x600 screen. However, I have tried to ensure that many of the interactivities will work with earlier versions of both Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer. I am aware of a few problems with some versions of Netscape Navigator in the way that some of the forms are displayed, and with the instant story creator. 

If you're viewing this with Netscape Navigator 2 or earlier, then the links to other resources will be more useful than the site itself. Don't expect the javascript interactivities to work! The site can be viewed with a non-frames-compatible browser at a resolution of 640x480.

Code Gallery

Data is encoded in order to make it easier to send, to make it less likely that errors are made in transcribing it and quicker to process.

I have included three methods of encoding data to make it easier to send a message over a distance. 

You may want to discuss other methods of sending messages. Have your students design their own sets of codes for flags (with a limited number of colours and designs available), smoke signals or any other means.

You might find it useful to remind them about not having confusingly similar combinations of colours or signals, and make the most commonly occurring letters the easiest to encode and decode. 

Hint: What are the Morse Code signals for "E" and "T"? 

If your students produce work that you're particularly proud of, let me know. I'd be glad to link to it or add examples of their work to this site.

A Victorian Mystery

In case you were wondering, the entire mystery is written in javascript. This was a deliberate decision so that you could investigate the mystery offline, rather than having to stay connected to the internet to access another page.

You might find it useful to have your students write their solution to the mystery in their own words. Or, create their own Victorian mysteries with choices for the reader to make.

Telephone Dating

A simple test to determine one of two things:

  1. Whether a student knows a set of obscure dates.
  2. How a student creates an effective strategy to eliminate the wrong responses from a set of choices.

I think option 2 is the more important set of skills to test

Find the Transmitter

A mathematical puzzle. You might find graph paper and compasses useful as you try to locate the transmitter.

In theory, you should be able to place the first three guesses at random anywhere on the grid, and then pin-point exactly where the transmitter is for your fourth guess. 

A demonstration involving compasses can quickly prove this.

You may also want to introduce Pythagoras' Rule to help calculate the distance between two places on the grid.

TV Viewing Habits Survey

This area includes some tools to help you analyse and compare viewing habits. As well as the database, I have included forms to fill in which automatically total themselves, and a utility to automatically draw a bar chart.

I have left the database available for public download if you would prefer to work with it offline. It is a large file (over 80k) which will take time. It is in Microsoft Access 97 format, and includes simple report and forms to display average TV viewing times for soaps, sitcoms, news and chat shows.

As a "low tech" alternative activity, I have also created a blank MS Works (version 3) database to download and complete as a class exercise. This one only takes up 10k.

Then again, you could always just grab the table of live data from the summary and import it into a spreadsheet...

The Secret Life of the Fax Machine

A short interactive animation showing how a fax machine works. It was either that, or a critical examination of David Hockney's contribution to fax art...

Instant Story Starter

As well as a list of possible topics to write a story about telecommunications in the future, there is a little script to randomly create the starting paragraphs of a story using words supplied by the student.

Again, as with the code gallery, if you find that this interactivity helps your students produce some high quality work, let me know. Perhaps I could post up some examples of their creative writing?


For something more "off the wall", take a look at the list of random planning ideas. You never know, something might appeal to you!


Introduction Telegraph Telephone Radio
Television Fax Computers Resources