Internet, VR, Dry Ice, and More

During the next two mornings, we covered a variety of topics including the internet, virtual reality, and dry ice.

My first internet simulation activity (adapted from was based on the game Battleship. However, rather than have multiple ships and only one opponent, this version allowed a single player to place one battleship for each of three opponents. Because this was an internet simulation, students had to communicate their intent to attack a particular board space by passing notes with To/From fields and the board coordinates. The message recipient would then indicate whether the chosen board coordinate was a hit or a miss. Once the students got the hang of the game, some actually got really into it.

Battleship internet simulation

Three students were absent, so Emily kindly stepped in and played as all three of them.

Emily playing three games of Battleship

For the second internet simulation, I put together a mini network complete with clients, servers, and routers. The activity went something like this:

  1. Each of three servers served a different type of candy, and the students acting as clients needed to consult a Domain Name Server table to look up the IP address of the desired candy server.
  2. Student clients wrote the candy server IP address on a Ziploc packet and passed the packet to the nearest router.
  3. Each router had their own routing table, which told them the next destination of the packet (e.g. another router, client, or server) based on the destination IP address.
  4. Candy servers placed candy into each packet they received and revealed the client (source) IP address.
  5. The packet would make its way back through the network and arrive back at the original client.
Internet simulation

I’m actually not sure how much the students understood from the activity, but based on the number of candies students were accumulating, I think it’s safe to assume they at least understood how my internet abstraction worked.

The next day, we introduced the students to virtual reality using Google Cardboard. My original plan was to use Google Expeditions to lead virtual class field trips to places in America and Europe and to explore human anatomy from the inside. Unfortunately, the school’s poor wifi connection forced us to ditch this plan. Instead, the students chose their own virtual reality apps from the Play Store/App Store and explored their own interests individually.

Afterward, Emu led dry ice experiments using dry ice that Baskin Robbins gave us with our ice cream cake purchase. Dry ice was a hit, as was the ice cream cake 🙂

The final Raspberry Pi activity was actually a leftover activity from the first week. Students were supposed to make an ultrasonic theremin by building a simple circuit and connecting it to the Raspberry Pi. By connecting an ultrasonic distance sensor to the Raspberry Pi, Sonic Pi can play different sounds based on how close or far your hand (or any object) is to the sensor. For reasons still unknown to us, we couldn’t get the Raspberry Pis to output meaningful values from the ultrasonic distance sensors. We even stayed in during lunch time to debug but to no avail.

Debugging sensors during lunch

Although the theremins ended up not working, we were very proud of the progress the students had made since day one when they were first introduced to Raspberry Pi. By week 2, students knew how to connect all the computer peripherals as well as navigate Terminal and Python IDLE windows with relative ease. Even though some students might not be huge fans of using the Raspberry Pis, at least they are better equipped to work with computers in the future if they ever need to do so.


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