Where Is My Network Folder?

I designed this activity to make the idea of a network folder more concrete to our fourth grade students. Annually, students struggle each year to understand where to save their files. The operating system does not provide much help. Local and network folders practically look the same. Sometimes, they even have the same name (for example, a Mac local and network home folders)!

Students started in their classroom, the school’s computer lab. They traced the path of an Ethernet cable out of the back of a computer, into the wall, and to the building network closet. There, they observed how the network switch transfers the signal from a copper Ethernet cable to glass fiber optic cables. They then traced the path of these cables from one building to the next, overhead and underground, until they reached the server room.

Students observed the many servers, noted their names, and looked at their network folders on a display attached to the servers. They collected notes on the experience and answered several questions seeking to assess their understanding of the experience.

More photos from the field trip


  1. I love this lesson on so many levels, starting with getting to these kids early. At age 53, I have run a “technology” company now for 15 years, and I when I look at all those cables and wires running through the office, I have to clear my mind of everything else to sort it all out, which I can do, but it doesn’t come naturally. In an age when we are increasingly moving from local networks to the cloud, a clear demonstration that these things are ultimately as tangible as a lunchbox is important. Finally, it’s also great to see so many girls in that picture as my visits to schools still demonstrate that computer labs largely continue to be the domain of boys–engaging girls and boys in this manner so early will likely lead to a more gender-balanced ownership of technology culture at Catlin.

  2. Richard says:

    Thank you, Mark! We can point to some success stories, but fewer girls enroll in our programming classes and robotics program than boys.