I gave them 5 binary cards and ask them questions, like the date today, their grade level exactly similar to the CS unplugged count the dots activity. However, using an 8 by 8 grid I let them draw a sprite by shading squares until they come up with figure and write the binary code and decimal value for each row. And finally, I will let them encode and decode short sentences they personally created.

We translated the current date (including year), our age, then our actual birth date, RGB color codes to Hex codes, a secret message on the smartboard, etc.

This section will dovetail with a supplemental lesson we did in Unit one that included discussion about Moore’s law, a docu-vid about the Watson computer (Jeopardy), artificial intelligence and their prediction about how long it would take before artificial intelligence (robots) might approximate both the computing/thinking/learning potential and the physical size of the human brain.

I think it’s important to begin with just having students translate between decimal and binary systems, then move on to study the ASCII alphabet and practice writing their names, etc then I think it’s cool to introduce the idea of images and how that data gets translated through binary, showing the versatility of this code.

When I teach Binary in my Computer programming class, I like to show the students how to count in binary on their fingers. The fingers on each had can be the bits. It’s nerdy, but the kids seem to enjoy it. Especially when they display the number 4 (the 3rd digit if using the thumb).

Also I ask them how they can have a birthday cake show an age like 25 with only five candles. They have to light candles (turn on the bits) to show the age of the person.

Attached you will find my attempt to the Lesson Challenge for Unit 2.

I think in order to keep inquiry and problem solving in this lesson, you need to let the students explore a little bit with their flash cards and practice with the worksheets provided from CS unplugged or another resource. There are also a lot of binary games if you do a google search that allows them further inquiry and problem solving.

AngelaBlair-ECSChallenge1Unit2.pdf (125.7 KB)

I have the students fill out worksheets and then I have them create their own problems and share them with their groups and see if their group members can figure out their binary problems.

I will have short messages or ask students to write their school schedule in binary. I change it up every year and try to make it something important or meaningful to the students.

Since they love to message each other. I have them code messages to someone.

translate a common message to practice, and then create their own message, encode it in binary and swap with an elbow partner to decode

When I taught this lesson I did an assessment at the end. I wrote five numbers and the students had to write it out in 1’s and 0’s.

One way would be for my students to map out instructions by applying simulated activities. Students in my ECS classes are directed to discuss how they derive with their results and also verbalize the rules in regards to computations of switching functions when using binaries in relationship to programming functions.

I used paper cut-outs so that students would have a better understanding while they are problem solving. A few students stated in one of the videos for Unit 1, it was a little difficult comprehending binary.

First of all I’m a middle school teacher and I find nothing wrong with starting out the instruction. If you can use a table showing the decimal system where all place values are numbers between 0 and 9. I can demonstrate that the decimal system is based on a power of ten concept. Then showing a similar table demonstrating that binary system is based on a power of two. I can show students how to move “place values” in the binary code once a value goes above 1, much like moving place values in once the value goes above 9. It is also easier to show students the value of each place value in decimal numbers on the top of the chart. After they grasp that concept then you can provide problem solving activities to determine codes using ASCII to provide their initials and birthdays. Maybe even write a short coded message to the teacher/fellow student.

I had them send their elbow partner a message in binary. They loved it.

I would use some sort of matching game or binary search activity where students will have to solve a riddle, etc.

I used several different worksheets, I had the student’s convert their birthday and also students learned how to tell time in binary.

I have an old binary clock that I put out in the class room a few weeks before the lesson. Students are always curious about what it is and how it works. I tell them it is a clock but do not tell them how to read it. I encourage them to look for the patterns. This is a great way to foster inquiry.

I also started the binary lesson with a strong review and explanation of how a place value system works using the decimal system. Once I felt that they understood the concept of each column is a multiple of a power of the base. I changed the base to two and asked them how it would work. This gave plenty of opportunity for inquiry and conjectures to be tested.

I can keep inquiry and problem solving by asking students to determine binary numbers for items such as their names and simple messages.

For homework, I had students create their own message, decode into binary and then trade with a partner who had to decode their message. There was a lot of inquiry, too, since we tried adding binary numbers … they were up for the challenge of trying to add the binary numbers without converting back to decimal. Very little instruction was given for this part but they did well and worked on generalizing the process.

Once students figured out how to count using 5 places they naturally started to challenge each other to read numbers using more places. Translating secret messages was fun.