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The Orange Game: Routing and Deadlock in Networks

Source Institutions

    National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT)

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The Orange Game: Routing and Deadlock in Networks

When a lot of people share one network (such as cars using roads, or messages getting through the Internet), there is the possibility that competing processes will create a “deadlock," or an interruption in movement through the resource. Learners model a network by cooperatively passing objects to their correct destinations. They devise algorithms to efficiently route objects to their destinations; they also learn ways to design a network to minimize deadlock. The activity includes the main activity and several extensions to explore how to design an efficient network. Background information is also included.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per student)

  • 3 Name tags or other labels
  • Permanent marker
  • 2 Oranges (other objects like baseballs, tennis balls, other fruits will also work)
  • Space for learners to sit in a network


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Technology
      • Information and Communication
  • Mathematics
    • Problem Solving
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Computers


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • be mobile

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Source:

  • Google, Inc.


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  • Thumbnail CATS by rmerton on 2012-06-28