Physical Internet Simulation

Stop-and-Wait Protocol Simulation

Traceroute Map Simulation

Physical simulation teaches students how the Internet works using ordinary household objects Software simulation requires students to model one of the most basic communication protocols Software simulation accurately shows how data physically travels across the U.S. Map


What does the Internet network actually look like? Is there a way that I can model this to better understand it?


How does the sender of data know that the shipment arrived at its destination? Moreover, how does the sender know if it can send another shipment of data? Particularly, when sending information on the Internet highway, how does a sender of information (packets) know when its information has been received and when it can send more?


Which roads on the Internet highway does data travel? Does a packet actually choose a specific path when travelling across communication links on the Internet from computer to computer (end-system to end-system)?


It looks much like a series of wires on which information can travel with some additional subtleties worth investigating. Module 1 will expound this by allowing students to create a physical model of the Internet using regular household objects.


Using some communication protocol. The simplest protocol to use is called STOP-AND-WAIT. Module 2 will involve learning how this protocol works, and then creating a visual simulation of the process.


A specific path is chosen by a data packet (unit of data sent over the Internet) as it moves across communication links on the Internet. Packets physically move across the globe through a series of cables and wires that allow the transmission of data. Module 3 will allow students to create a visual depiction of this by creating a computer program that will plot the actual latitude/longitude points on a map that a packet moves along from source to destination.


  • High school students will spend their entire lives on the Internet but most existing high school curricula do not cover network architecture or mechanics.
  • Students who have learned infrastructure concepts at the secondary level would have an easier transition to college level infrastructure courses and careers in this field.
  • All students, regardless of academic concentration, should have basic understanding of the mechanics for network infrastructure.


  • Provide secondary teachers with resources to assist them with instructing students on network infrastructure concepts
  • Modules have been created to help assist educators in teaching students how to better understand what is behind the Internet

Learning Outcomes:

  • Develop firmer understanding of how the Internet functions and is physically made (Module 1)
  • Understand the Stop and Wait Protocol, the simplest approach to reliable data transmission on the Internet (Module 2)
  • Discover geographic location of Internet components used by web browser (Module 3)

When to Use these Modules:

  • Fulfill curriculum gap following AP Computer Science Exam.
  • Module 1 can be used in any class while Modules 2 and 3 can be used with any class where basic programming is being taught.

Materials to get started

Final Note:

  • Each teacher has their own time constraints, learning objectives, and available resources. As a result, the educational modules that help answer the above questions can be completed in any order and in any quantity. That being said, each additional module that you are able to complete with your students will allow your students to gain an even better understanding of how the Internet functions and how it looks behind the exterior with which they have become so familiar throughout their lives thus far.