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Age Range: 11-14 | 14-16
Duration: 30-59 mins
  • D&T
  • Physics

Build a simple communications device

Students build a communications device and develop a protocol to communicate with each other

Telemedicine is a new and fast developing field in healthcare. Even 20 years ago, the idea of a surgeon being able to operate a robot from hundreds of miles away in order to perform an operation seemed like science fiction.

Today, this is not only possible but engineers, working with scientists and doctors, are now designing robotic systems which will be able to operate on patients with no human intervention at all.

This is an engaging and practical activity in which students will work in small teams to investigate the necessity of developing standards and protocols for communication using a basic electrical circuit.

Activity: Build a simple communications device

To ensure an even number of teams in the class, arrange students into pairs or groups of three.

The objective of the activity is for students to build a basic communication device and establish communication between teams. Each team should receive a copy of the ‘Building the Communicator’ handout and proceed to assemble their circuits.

Once the circuits have been assembled and tested, each team must form a communication link with another team to exchange messages. Students should take care to avoid creating trip hazards with any trailing leads.

Teams should be informed that they need to establish a set of rules or a ‘protocol’ for sending messages back and forth between themselves.

Given the limitations of their equipment, teams will have to create a system similar to Morse code.

This activity is a great way to introduce students to the history and practical use of telecommunication while also engaging their creativity and problem-solving skills.

How long will this activity take?

This activity will take approximately 45 minutes to complete.

Tools/resources required

Per team:

  • One non-latching push to make switch
  • Connecting leads
  • One light bulb (3V approx) and holder
  • One 3V power supply (best to use cells so that bulbs do not blow)
  • Supply of crocodile clips

The engineering context

Telemedicine engineers are professionals who specialise in designing, developing, and implementing technological solutions for remote medical care. They utilise their expertise in engineering, software development, and medical equipment to create systems that enable patients to receive medical care remotely. Telemedicine engineers also work closely with healthcare providers to understand their needs and develop solutions that address their challenges.

Telemedicine engineers play a critical role in expanding access to healthcare for patients in remote areas. They contribute to the development of cutting-edge technology that allows medical practitioners to deliver high-quality care to patients from a distance.

Suggested learning outcomes

By the end of this activity students will be able to build a simple electrical circuit, design a code for easy transmission of messages between two teams and explain why global protocols are required.

Download the activity sheets for free below!

All activity sheets and supporting resources are free to download, and all the documents are fully editable, so you can tailor them to your students’ and your schools’ needs.

The activity sheet includes teacher notes, guidance, useful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in each of the four devolved UK nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Please share your classroom learning highlights with us @IETeducation.


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