Computer Systems, Data, and Life

Enduring Understanding

The physical components (hardware) and instructions (software) that make up a computing system communicate and process information in digital form. People interact with a wide variety of computing devices that collect, store, analyze, and act upon information in ways that can affect human capabilities both positively and negatively. An understanding of hardware and software is useful when troubleshooting a computing system that does not work as intended.


Essential Questions

What can computers help me to do?
What are software and hardware in a computing system?
What role does software play when using a computer?
What is data and how is the information stored?
What can we do when computers have problems?
How can data and information affect our life?
How can computers affect lifestyles and relationships?


Core Concepts:

  • Computing Systems (Hardware & Software; Trouble Shooting)

  • Data and Analysis (Storage; Collection, Visualization & Transformation; Inference & Models)


CSTA Standards

1A-CS-01 Select and operate appropriate software to perform a variety of tasks, and recognize that users have different needs and preferences for the technology they use. (P1.1)
People use computing devices to perform a variety of tasks accurately and quickly. Students should be able to select the appropriate app/program to use for tasks they are required to complete. For example, if students are asked to draw a picture, they should be able to open and use a drawing app/program to complete this task, or if they are asked to create a presentation, they should be able to open and use presentation software. In addition, with teacher guidance, students should compare and discuss preferences for software with the same primary functionality. Students could compare different web browsers or word processing, presentation, or drawing programs.
1A-IC-16 Compare how people live and work before and after the implementation or adoption of new computing technology. (P7.0)
Computing technology has positively and negatively changed the way people live and work. In the past, if students wanted to read about a topic, they needed access to a library to find a book about it. Today, students can view and read information on the Internet about a topic or they can download e-books about it directly to a device. Such information may be available in more than one language and could be read to a student, allowing for great accessibility.
1A-CS-03 Describe basic hardware and software problems using accurate terminology. (P6.2, P7.2)
Problems with computing systems have different causes. Students at this level do not need to understand those causes, but they should be able to communicate a problem with accurate terminology (e.g., when an app or program is not working as expected, a device will not turn on, the sound does not work, etc.). Ideally, students would be able to use simple troubleshooting strategies, including turning a device o and on to reboot it, closing and reopening an app, turning on speakers, or plugging in headphones. These are, however, not specified in the standard, because these problems may not occur.
1A-DA-05 Store, copy, search, retrieve, modify, and delete information using a computing device and define the information stored as data. (P4.2)
All information stored and processed by a computing device is referred to as data. Data can be images, text documents, audio files, software programs or apps, video files, etc. As students use software to complete tasks on a computing device, they will be manipulating data.
1A-DA-06 Collect and present the same data in various visual formats. (P7.1, P4.4)
The collection and use of data about the world around them is a routine part of life and influences how people live. Students could collect data on the weather, such as sunny days versus rainy days, the temperature at the beginning of the school day and end of the school day, or the inches of rain over the course of a storm. Students could count the number of pieces of each color of candy in a bag of candy, such as Skittles or M&Ms. Students could create surveys of things that interest them, such as favorite foods, pets, or TV shows, and collect answers to their surveys from their peers and others. The data collected could then be organized into two or more visualizations, such as a bar graph, pie chart, or pictograph.
1A-DA-07 Identify and describe patterns in data visualizations, such as charts or graphs, to make predictions. (P4.1)
Data can be used to make inferences or predictions about the world. Students could analyze a graph or pie chart of the colors in a bag of candy or the averages for colors in multiple bags of candy, identify the patterns for which colors are most and least represented, and then make a prediction as to which colors will have most and least in a new bag of candy. Students could analyze graphs of temperatures taken at the beginning of the school day and end of the school day, identify the patterns of when temperatures rise and fall, and predict if they think the temperature will rise or fall at a particular time of the day, based on the pattern observed.

Related Resources and Toolkits

How Computers Work, video playlist from

Sample Lessons

Lesson 1-2 : Computer Run Software
Lesson 3-4: Past, Presence and Future
Lesson 5-6: What is Data?


View Samples