The Mailman and the Five Packages: Data Packets and Data Transfer Speed

The Mailman and the Five Packages: Data Packets and Data Transfer Speed


Hanan Al Arfaj
IT Supervisor in the Supervision Administration
Ministry of Education – Eastern Province
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

*This video was sponsored by Saudi Aramco and produced by Sultan Bin Abdel Aziz Science & Technology Center

Lesson Feedback


This lesson will explain the process of data transfer throughout computer systems and the form the data gets transferred into. Additionally, we will touch on some factors that alter the transfer speed. We will use simple analogies and examples to explain complicated concepts.  We will present a situation where a mailman has five packages to deliver and he is constrained by time to deliver them. We will also include an analogy that includes running with a folder through the hallways of a school to deliver it to a certain office by using a relay system with different students taking turns at the task. Those two examples and their solutions will help the students understand the basics of data transfer and the factors affecting the speed at which that happens.  Students will learn to calculate the time it takes to transfer folders and files after knowing their respective sizes. Prerequisites for this lesson include some knowledge of the concept of digital data and an understanding of file size units (Bits, Bytes, Kilobytes, etc).  Materials needed include: 5 Cardboard boxes in different sizes; Stickers; a series of books; and 3 bags.

Instructor Biography

Ms. Al Arfaj has a B.S. degree in Computer & information Sciences from King Saud University.  In 2006, she obtained the first award for the distinguished performance at the level of Educational Administration in the Eastern Provinces of Saudi Arabia. Her major skills are in the areas of Systems Analysis & Programming, and she enjoys designing and preparing educational training courses in the ICT field.

Additional Online Resources

Intel: Education Technology Promotes Skills for the Future
This site, sponsored by Intel, is entitled “The Journey Inside: A Fascinating Look Inside the World of Computers” and provides a collection of 35 interactive, online lessons for students to learn about technology, computers, and society.

YouTube: How Does the Internet Work?
This URL presents a video on “How the Internet Works” created by Data Centers Canada.

How Stuff Works: How does the Internet work?
This page, provided by “How Stuff Works”, presents a discussion on how the Internet works.