High school students go high tech

While most students would believe the world — filled with cell phones, DVDs and HDTVs — has turned into a digital convergence of “0s” and “1s,” the General Dynamics-sponsored Kaua‘i’ National Engineers Week program set the record straight with the island’s four high schools.

According to a press release put out by General Dynamics, students at Waimea, Kaua‘i, Kapa‘a and Island high schools learned about the science and mathematics behind converting the analog world we live in into the digital world of our modern electronic devices, the last week of February.

It was the second year the event has taken place.

During the day-long program at Kaua‘i Community College, students were first introduced to analog-to-digital transmission through a preliminary lesson on binary numbers and review of the sine function of trigonometry.

GDAIS employees discussed how digital cellular phone networks work and basic analog-to-digital conversion theory, including packet-based data transmission and signal reconstruction.

According to the release each school was presented with a predetermined analog signal, the first three to four notes of the song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

The students then converted the notes into a digital signal and passed the digital data packets to another high school. The receiving school reconstructed and interpreted the message, then encoded a few more notes and passed it to the third participating school.

The third school did the same, passing to the fourth school until each had heard the notes. The final school retransmitted the signal, along with the individual musical notes, to all schools for verification.

“This activity provides students an appreciation with the processes involved in converting analog input to a digital format, and converting back to analog, such as the notion of data sampling and concepts of waves,” Tom Cooper said in the release. “Last year we had some terrific insight from the students and this year the interest was even more evident.”

Each school was awarded a scholarship for completing the program.


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