Lesson 2.3: Real World Connection

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Seeing With Bionic Eyes

Eye Chip Implant

The computer chip shown in this diagram is much bigger than a real computer chip.

Suppose that one day computer chips could be placed in your eyes. Would you be able to see through walls? Would you be able to use your eyes to zoom in on far-away objects?

Computer chips may not give you super-sight, but they may help some blind people see.

A Chip in the Eye

Using mechanical body parts to replace real ones is called bionics. Scientists have been making bionic body parts for many years. But now, computer chips are helping to make bionic eyes.

To place a computer chip in an eye, a doctor makes a tiny pocket in the back of the eye, the retina. The retina is like a movie screen. The lens at the front of the eye focuses light on it.

The computer chip is about the size of a dot. It is thinner than a human hair. The doctor places it inside the tiny pocket in the retina. The chip senses light.

Seeing Again

Six patients had the operation. After doctors put chips in their eyes, they said that the chips helped them see better.

Before the operation, one patient could see only up to a few feet away. After the operation, he said he could see a flock of geese in the sky.

Another patient who saw only darkness before the operation could see light and shadows afterward. “Someone came along and developed this little thing to put in your eye, and suddenly I can see more light,” he said.

Word Wise

computer chip:
Very small bit of material used to store data: A new board covered with computer chips will increase our computer's memory.

mechanical:
Having to do with machines or tools: At the car wash, mechanical brushes do all the work.

patient:
A person who is getting medical treatment: The doctor's waiting room is filled with patients.

develop:
Bring into being: An inventor develops ideas about how to make things.

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Activity

Learn about word roots.

The word root mech- is part of the word mechanical.

Use a dictionary.

  • Find three words that begin with mech-.
  • Find three words that begin with the word root mach-.

Work with a partner. Talk about how the mech- words and the mach- words are related.

Data Hunt

Computer chips, like the ones that are used to help blind people see, are very tiny electric devices that help computers store information. The unit that measures how much information is stored in a computer is called a byte. A byte stores a very small amount of memory. Most computers store billions of bytes of information. Below are some names of different units that store information.

  • 1 byte
  • 1 kilobyte (KB) equals about 1,024 bytes
  • 1 megabyte (MB) equals about 1,048,576 bytes
  • 1 gigabyte (GB) equals about 1,000 megabytes

Imagine that you are shopping for a used computer.

Look online or in your local newspaper for computers that are for sale. Write down the name of 5 computers and the amount of memory that each computer has. The memory should be listed as the amount of "RAM" (Random Access Memory) for each computer.

List the amounts of RAM in the computers in order from least to greatest. Which computer has the most memory?