CS01 : Introduction to Computer Systems

The 'big picture' of computer systems including an overview of all the major components with a special focus on embedded systems.  Suitable for all examination boards but not explicitly covered in iGCSE.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1VkxSiAmJMNFNxyuUD3mEaQobfcI32B_fpmfByfmuXgY/preview?slide=id.g3cb6bc7fc1_0_0 Learning Outcomes
Introduction to Computer Systems

We are learning ...
  • About computer systems
So that we can ...
  • State and describe the functions of the main hardware components of a computer system
    - CPU / primary storage / secondary storage
  • Recognise different types of computer system
    - Embedded and non-embedded systems
  • Describe a simple input-process-storage-output (IPSO) model of computer systems.

# Get Ready.png

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1VkxSiAmJMNFNxyuUD3mEaQobfcI32B_fpmfByfmuXgY/preview?slide=id.g3df8b56503_0_5 Activity 1
What is a computer system?

You find computer systems in the most unlikely places, not just on your desk.

Task 1.1 Where are these computer systems?
Where we learn about where computer systems are found and the two main categories

In your notebooks / folders

Your task is to identify as many computer systems as you can.  Where do you find them? Work in pairs and write your answers in the form of a mind map in your notebooks / on paper.

Hopefully, you may have identified two different types of computer system - an embedded system (inside another device) and a non-embedded system (like a desktop computer). A non-embedded system is sometimes known as a multitasking system because they can be made to carry out lots of different tasks (often at the same time).

Highlight the embedded and non-embedded systems

Using a highlighter pen, highlight all the embedded systems in  ORANGE . How many are there compared to the non-embedded systems / general purpose machines?

Activity 2
Make your own cardboard laptop

Can't afford your own laptop? How about making your own!

Task 2.1 Making a cardboard laptop
Where we learn about where in a non-embedded system you find different hardware components

On a piece of cardboard

You are going to create your own ‘cardboard laptop’ by drawing components in the correct place.  You will need a piece of card given by your teacher and 2 different coloured pens. Use one colour pen to draw components you would find inside the laptop.  Use a different colour pen for components you would see outside the laptop. Alternatively, you could use images from the Internet, cut out and stick the components on your 'cardboard laptop' instead of drawing them. Use the following list to help you.

Click to engage

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1VkxSiAmJMNFNxyuUD3mEaQobfcI32B_fpmfByfmuXgY/preview?slide=id.g40f3efce1a_0_17 Activity 3
Parts of a computer system

Computer systems are complicated things. If you have ever opened up a computer, you will see that there are lots of different components that make them up. There are also different types of computer system. Some look like traditional computers (with keyboards, screens and mice) and some don't (like your microwave or your family car).

Task 3.1 Non-embedded computer system
Where we learn about the functions of the main components of a non-embedded computer system

For many of the tasks on The Computing Cafe, you will be asked to present your work on a word processed document. Follow the instructions below carefully ...

Create a suitable word processed document

Create a blank word processed document with a suitable header and footer. Add the title of the task to the top of the sheet and format it appropriately. Your document should look like this ...

If you are struggling, or if you have run out of time, you can download a template here. You might want to save this template and use it for all future tasks (there will be a lot of them!)

Consult a diagram and discuss

Click to view the diagram of the non-embedded computer system shown below. How many of these components have you seen before? Discuss the diagram with your shoulder partner.

Click to engage

Add a copy of the diagram to your word processed document

Now insert a copy of the image onto the word processed document underneath the title. You might be able to simply copy and paste it or you might have to download it and insert it manually. Underneath, write a sentence about the function of each part of the computer system. Don't worry if you don't know the right answer - write whatever you think is right at this stage.

Print out your work

Lastly, print out your word processed document and hand it to your teacher for assessment.

Task 3.2 Worksheet
Where we learn about the functions of the main parts of a non-embedded computer system


Read the text below to your shoulder partner (or out loud to yourself if you do not have one).

Parts of a computer system

A computer system is a combination of computer hardware and software.  Hardware is the parts of the computer that you can touch; the physical parts.  Software is stored instructions to tell the computer what to do. An embedded system such as household appliances (microwave oven and washing machine), air conditioning units, SatNav, ATM (automated teller machine), traffic lights and vending machines are designed for a particular function.  A non-embedded system is another system which may perform many functions - it can multi-task. Examples include computers and smartphones. All computer systems require input, perform processing, store results of calculations, temporarily or permanently, and produce output.

Complete the worksheet

Now download the worksheet Parts of a Computer System and complete it to your best ability before printing it out for your teacher to check.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1VkxSiAmJMNFNxyuUD3mEaQobfcI32B_fpmfByfmuXgY/preview?slide=id.g40f3efce1a_0_29 Activity 4
Input, Processing, Storage and Output

All computer systems perform 4 basic tasks - Input, Processing, Storage and Output. Time to identify the parts of your new laptop which perform each task!

Task 4.1 Labelling your laptop
Where we learn which parts of a non-embedded system perform input, processing, storage and output

On your cardboard laptop

Look carefully at the following diagram.  

Click to engage

On each image you drew / stuck on your cardboard laptop label the component as either input, process, storage or output
  • Input : The world provides data which the computer system needs to capture.
  • Processing : Usually mathematical methods to change inputs into output.
  • Storage : Long term or short term storage.
  • Output : Converts the results of processing into a form which can be given back to the World.

Task 4.2 Input, storage, processing, output
Where we learn about how simple instructions can be expressed in pseudocode

As a group

Read the following list of instructions which are designed to describe a process to find the different between two numbers.  Classify each line as input, storage, processing or output.  Be prepared to share your answers with the class.

GET first number from user and STORE in variable 'firstNumber'
GET second number from user and STORE in variable 'secondNumber'
CALCULATE firstNumber minus secondNumber and STORE in variable answer
DISPLAY the answer

Yes they do!

Task 4.3 Typing in a script!
Where we learn how to type in your first Python script!

For the following task, you will be asked to upload your script to the REPL.it website which you will have to have made an account on before you start. Ask your teacher to invite you to your class.


Download a template for your first script

The easiest way to structure your first script is to use a template. Download it (by clicking on the blue link) and save it to a suitable, central place in your documents. You will use this template *a lot* and, to stop you changing it, I've made it read-only so that if you try to save it, you will be asked for a new filename.

The template you will use to write your code - get used to it!

In the Python template

Enter the following script using the template in a scripting window, make sure it is saved and "run" the script by choosing 'Run > Run Module' or pressing the  F5  key on the keyboard.

Use the template to help you to write this script

If the script doesn't work when you run it, compare it really carefully to the image above and make sure yours looks exactly the same - even a simple missing colon or an extra space can stop the script running.

Submit your script for assessment

You will submit this script using the REPL.it website so that I can make sure that you have completed the task correctly. In future, you will only submit your attempts at programming challenges this way, not classwork.

Consolidation Task

For three of the 'systems' below describe the input, processing, storage and output that takes place.  Some of the systems are embedded computer systems and some are not.  The first system has been done for you. 
  • Washing machine (done)
  • Changing a car tyre
  • Navigating to your Uncles house using a SatNav
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Using an ATM (Automatic Teller Machine - Cash Machine)
  • Cooking a curry
  • Vending machine
  • Making an origami model

Consider the need for physical objects and knowledge - never forget the knowledge of how to carry out the process because that is arguably the most important input there is!

Grading rubric

MASTER :  I've considered three of the systems and explained accurately, and in detail, the inputs, processing, storage and output that takes place. I have given a number of ideas for each part of the system.
APPRENTICE I have considered three of the systems and described the inputs, processing, storage and output that takes place. I have given more than one idea for each part of the system.
NOVICE : I have considered three of the systems and stated the inputs, processing, storage and output that takes place. I have only given one of my ideas for each part of each system.

# Flash cards.png
Click to load key word list to help you make your own flash cards 

Hungry for more?

Look around you when you are next out and about - how many embedded computer systems can you find?


Q : What about the other components in a computer system, when do I learn about them?
A : There are plenty of other components that we will learn more about later in the course, storage devices, network interface cards, memory and the CPU being the main ones.

Q : Could you recommend a book to read about Python / coding?
A : There are loads of resources to help you learn to code. Take a look at the Python page on The Computing Cafe.

Q : Do components have components?
A : Yes - ultimately, the components we have mentioned are built from a collection of much simpler things. Just take a look at a motherboard and you'll see!

Q : How does a motherboard work?
A : On a fundamental level, it's like a city with a sophisticated traffic control system that makes sure that all the data gets to where it needs to go in the fastest and most efficient way possible. The motherboard controls most of the 'infrastructure' of a computer - it's a very complex device in itself.

Q : What programming language is Python written in?
A : Python is written in a programming language called 'C'