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WAN Island

wan island app
Audience: KS2

Subject: Computing

Topic: Network, protocol, communication, router, messaging

Question: What is the best way, or combination of ways to 1) send a warning from Peer Village to Hub Village? 2) send an invitation from Nap Village to Ack Village where they need a yes/no reply?

Author: Anne de A’Echevarria




This mystery relates to the curriculum point of “Understand computer networks including the internet; how they can provide multiple services, such as the world wide web; and the opportunities they offer for communication and collaboration.”

WAN Island gets students to think about concepts in networking and especially how network protocols address different problems in networking. Users are introduced to Sam and Jo – two residents of the island. They have been asked to think of a way that villages can communicate with each other in case of attack. Students need to help consider and discuss different methods.

The rules the students will have to come up with to help people send and receive messages correctly are a network protocol. Having to come up with the rules themselves helps them understand the concept of protocols and the reasons behind them.

Teachers can explain the concepts by using elements of the story. For the devices involved in a network, each village is basically a device connected to the network and knows how to understand the network protocol. The central village will sometimes play the role of the router as it needs to receive messages addressed to other villages, retransmit them, then send the reply back and that is exactly what a router does. If the central village is connected to the internet using smoke signals, then all the villages will have smoke based internet access through the central village.

The messages to be transferred are examples of data. In the case of sound or smoke, the air is the medium just as with wireless networks. The messenger is more like a point-to-point cable based transmission (the roads/paths represent the cable).


• that a network is one or more computing devices connected together, through the village=device analogy
• what a router is, through the use of the central village example
• what a protocol is, by having to come up with one
• that there may be different ways to transmit information but each will have its own advantages and disadvantages.
• that information can be transmitted through different media, and again, that each has its own advantages and its advantages.

For the hard set, students get introduced to basic network security concepts too.