Ongoing professional development and support is available for the fall. Sign up for sessions and classes now.

Computing Systems are made up of hardware and software.

Hardware are the physical devices you can see and pick up: screens, printers, chips, etc.

Software are the instructions that control the hardware: operating system, apps, programming environments, etc.


Computing systems receive input in many ways: keyboards, cameras, sensors, etc. They store the information and process it to produce different kinds of output: motion, printouts, pictures, words, etc.
The central processing unit (CPU) fetches instructions from memory, decodes what they mean, and then executes the commands.

Use these resources to learn the basics about computing systems:

 Resource: video series on how computers work study guide

Questions you should be able to answer,

and vocabulary defined

 vocabulary: bit, pixel,binary, circuit, CPU, hardware, software
  1. Describe the process of the basic function of any computer.
  2. What is binary code?
  3. How is it used?
  4. How is binary different from the numbers we normally use?
  5. How are circuits used in computers?
  6. How are modern computer circuits different from the ones in the 1900's?
  7. What is the function of the CPU?
  8. The central processing unit calculates input-based information stored in the computer's memory to formulate various kinds of output. Modern computers often have multiple CPUs and many gigabytes of memory.
  9. Describe how hardware and software work together inside a computer.

 Resource: Barefoot Computing from the UK (create a free account) study guide


Questions you should be able to answer,

and vocabulary defined


Dianne O'Grady-Cunniff, dogrady at usmd dot edu
Director, Maryland Center for Computing Education

Dr. Megean Garvin, mgarvin at usmd dot edu
Director of Research, Maryland Center for Computing Education

     ECEP Logo 2 Web .       CSFORALL Logo Web .       CSTALogo Web

Maryland Center for Computing Education
3300 Metzerott Rd. Adelphi, MD 20783
MCCE received initial support from the National Science Foundation, (MSP)2 Grant No. 0831970.