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Ministry of Education.
Kaua e rangiruatia te hāpai o te hoe; e kore to tātou waka e ū ki uta

Black box

A black box is a generic term used to describe hidden transformation systems.

For example, a door and its handle is a system designed so you can travel through a wall. The inputs are the materials (door, hinges, handle, and lock mechanism) and the forces used to turn the handle and push the door. The system can be described as: When force is applied to the handle and the door is pushed, the door pivots on its hinges and opens. The output is that the door opens and closes. In this example, the black box comprises of the parts that cannot be easily seen (referred to as sub-systems). An example is the lever mechanism inside the door that transforms the input (force) into the output (door opens).

The concept of a black box is important in describing technological systems. Students begin to understand black boxes as one way inputs are transformed into outputs. But, while describing technological systems as black boxes has many advantages. For example, the reduced need to understand all aspects of the system, or the ability to replace a faulty subsystem without disrupting the entire system. It also has disadvantages. For example, understanding of the entire system can be incomplete or troubleshooting can be difficult.

Found in: technological systems levels 2–3 and 6

Technological areas: all


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