90 Minutes  |  5th – 12th Grades


The Telecommunications activity introduces the various ways in which we communicate with each other on a daily basis, and discusses the impact of communication – both verbal and non-verbal.

In this activity, students analyzed a basic version of a telecommunications system in Massachusetts.  This system included several Local Switching Centers and two Mobile Telephone Switching Offices, each with four cell towers in its range.  The students studied the map and analyzed where the landlines were located, and how they were connected to each other.  They were asked to examine the area code distribution for Massachusetts, and determine the orientation of the map in order to find the north.  They were then asked to place a house (landline) in the drawing in each area code, and connect it to the landline system.  Using a physical model laid out on the floor of the classroom, the students acted out a phone call transmission (with two students acting as the phones, and a third student describing and moving through the flow of the phone call).

In the second part of the activity, the students examined how cell phone systems work, and how these are integrated into the landline phone network as well as the cell network.  The students learned about cell towers, how they are connected to the service provider’s Mobile Telephone Switching Offices, and how these MTSO’s are connected to each other, and to the landline system.  The students were then introduced to the third type of phone – satellite phones, and the satellite system required for their use.


CURENT Telecom Activity Summary
Telecommunications Handouts
TELECOMMUNICATIONS – Info and Fact Sheet for Teachers

Telecommunications Prezi

Additional Resources:
48 million people in the world have cell phones but no electricity; in this website (http://www.cellphonesinlearning.com/) you can learn more about how we interact with cell phones every day.

This website discusses online safety and security. The content differs by grade, but some topics include cyberbullying, social networking safety, and identity theft. http://cybersmartcurriculum.org/safetysecurity/lessons/6-8/private_and_personal_information/.

I’m Not in Range Activity – Here is another website that shows students the importance of cell towers and why calls are dropped.

Hello, Are You Listening? Activity –  This is another link that is similar idea to the above activity, but also explains land line connections.