Over the past decade, Australia has upgraded the network infrastructure that powers the internet. Previously, we used phone lines with dial-up, then ADSL technologies to connect people to the internet, but we now use the National Broadband Network (NBN) to handle internet data and telephone connections. The NBN is largely hidden from view, but if we look, we can find out lots about how our messages get from A to B. Students could answer the following inquiry question: How does your computer at home connect to the internet?
Students could trace along the network nodes from their house to the local exchange. At each point, they could take a photo (or use street view) to document the route that their data takes to the exchange.
- Find their router at home (ask a parent if it is tucked away).
- Look outside or in the garage for the utility box, where the house connection is joined to the street connection.
- Find their street cabinet. This will look differently depending on their connection type.
- Find their local exchange. The nodes usually run to the local exchange which is usually a building somewhere in the suburb.
This could be done as part of an inquiry task for homework, or as a group activity finding the network equipment at the school.