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Crash Course


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Social Studies, Physics, History, Engineering, Computer Science and Design Thinking

Regional Focus


Electronic Computing

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  • This video explains the history of modern computing, from the mechanical and electromechanical computers of the past to the most advanced computers with semiconductors of today.
  • The information is presented chronologically, providing historical context, connecting to science and math concepts, and listing a variety of historic computer models.
Teaching Tips


  • This video is comprehensive and has ample points at which to pause for discussion.
  • This video features excellent vocabulary development and several rigorous terms are introduced.
  • This video can be utilized as an introduction to famous computer pioneers, physics concepts, or electronics.  

Additional Prerequisites

  • Teachers need a classroom device to display the video.
  • Students should have a basic working knowledge of computers.
  • The narrator speaks quickly, so adjusting the playback speed in the settings or frequent pauses for comprehension checks will be beneficial.


  • This lesson can be paired with a modern history unit, since there are mentions of World Wars I and II, as well as the importance of computing to advancements around the world.
  • This lesson lends itself to the use of Venn diagrams, T-charts, and/or other graphic organizers. 
  • Brief research regarding computer pioneers can be conducted in small groups.
  • A connection to climate change can be made by asking students how today's computers help to quickly gather relevant climate data. 
  • Support non-science learners with basic information about electrons, circuits, and switches.
Scientist Notes
This short video from Crash Course provides an overview of the growth and the use of computers in the 20th century. Where and how computer chips are made is also discussed. This video would be a great addition to an introduction to computer science course or as a resource for a history or physics course.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • HS-ETS1-2 Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
    • PS2: Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions
      • HS-PS2-6 Communicate scientific and technical information about why the molecular-level structure is important in the functioning of designed materials.
    • PS3: Energy
      • HS-PS3-2 Develop and use models to illustrate that energy at the macroscopic scale can be accounted for as a combination of energy associated with the motions of particles (objects) and energy associated with the relative position of particles (objects).
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: History
      • D2.His.1.9-12 Evaluate how historical events and developments were shaped by unique circumstances of time and place as well as broader historical contexts.
      • D2.His.16.9-12 Integrate evidence from multiple relevant historical sources and interpretations into a reasoned argument about the past.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.2 Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions and solve problems, evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source and noting any discrepancies among the data.
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