Computer Engineering: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

Did you know that computers used to be larger than a small house? In this lesson, find out who is responsible for figuring out how to make computers that help us in our daily lives.

Computers Everywhere

You're probably reading this lesson on a computer. Today, we use computers every day. Sometimes, we don't even know we're using a computer when we use things around our homes or school. For example, most newer cars have computers in them. The computers in some cars are so advanced that they can park the car for you, give you directions to get to your destination, or even make a phone call for help if your car breaks down or you have an accident.

Smartphones have computers in them so that you can use them to get online. Video games use computers to entertain you. There are computers at the grocery store for scanning and paying for your purchases, and even more computers at the doctor's office or the hospital to help keep you feeling well.

We're surrounded by computers in today's world. Who invented all these things? Computer engineers!

Tasks for Computer Engineers

Computer engineers use what they know about mathematics, electricity, computer sciences, and other subjects to make the computers that we use every day. Engineers try to find ways to use machines and structures to help make our lives easier and better. Computer engineers do this by thinking of new ways that computers can be used.

Computer Hardware
hardware

Computer engineers might develop new hardware for computers. Hardware is the word used for the parts of a computer that can be held in your hands, such as keyboards, laptops, or computer monitors. Other computer engineers might develop software, which is the name for the programs that give the computers directions for how to do the work we need them to do. Sometimes, the software is saved on a disc or in a cartridge, such as a video game, so that you can use it with your hardware.

If you've ever used a computer to get online, you've used both hardware and software! The software is usually inside the computer when you buy it or might be directly on a website, but sometimes people buy new software to make their computers do special things.

From Huge to Microscopic

People used to use the word 'computer' to mean someone who could compute, or do mathematics. For thousands of years, people have used different kinds of machines to help them do math or solve other problems.

An abacus was an early type of computer.
abacus

For example, an abacus, which has been around for thousands of years, was an early way to compute (or solve) math problems.

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