Packet Switching Relay Race

Inspired by the wonderful activities at, I built my own puzzles for a packet switching relay race activity for my 5th grade students. The learning goal is to help students understand how data is transmitted through networks to our computers via packet switching. Routers all over the Internet decompose files into smaller chunks called packets, which re then send along an indeterminate path to reach their destination.

In the activity, students act as routers and route the packets from one side of the room to the other, and then must reassemble them into complete files at their destination. Students came a way with a number of new understandings: when they experience slow Internet speeds, there may be high traffic on their area network; computers really do this kind of information relay work much faster than humans can.

This video on Packets, Routing & Reliability from is a great additional resource for this lesson.