How can you create a 60 second or less video to teach someone how binary works without using the binary cards?

Lesson starter

Notes on resources

The following items are highly motivating, however you can use any resources you have available in your classroom that have two different states or sizes.

Playdough/plasticine

Musical instruments

Mathematics equipment such as mini teddy bears

Glue a stick onto paper plates and have one side on and the other side off

There is also an online interactive version of the binary cards here, from the Computer Science Field Guide, but it is preferable to work with physical cards.

Teacher says to class: “We are going to create a video that shows binary
numbers in use.”

Lesson activities

In this lesson students will make a video that gives instructions on how to
represent any given number in binary.
The video must include a demonstration of one of the following:

How to count from 0 to 8 or more using binary numbers.

How you would work out the number 22.

Brainstorm together items you could use to make this video with.
It should be different to how it has been demonstrated to the class, so they
are not allowed to just video cards with dots on them (but they may want to
use them to help with their planning).

Within the hour students will have taken the raw footage needed to make the
movie and imported it into a simple movie format using available software
like iMovie or StopMotion.

Early finishers can edit their work, add music and then be camera crew
for others.

Tips to relay before sending students off for the 60 minute challenge:

The order of place values in a binary number is the same as the
conventional (decimal) place value system, so the highest is on the left, smallest value on the right.

Make sure that if you are using colours or other representations there is a strong contrast.

Teaching observations

The number pattern is from highest to lowest, left to right (it's just a
convention, but we use the same one in decimal, with the most significant
digits on the left):

16, 8, 4, 2, 1

Therefore watch that they aren’t representing 1 as:

1, 0, 0, 0, 0 (which actually represents the decimal number 16)

Below is an example of where students believed that 3 in decimal is
represented as 00100, as they focused on the pattern of numbers rather
than using the place values.

00001

00010

00100 (where it should be 00011 for 3)

The videos below were made within 60 minutes, to provide you with
realistic videos that your students can expand on.
Like all completed work, there is always something you can improve on.
It's very hard to get every detail exactly right when you are explaining
things, so the important thing is that students are demonstrating that
they have the big concepts, rather than getting every detail right;
minor errors such as an incorrect number can be discussion points for
other students.

Examplars

Samples of work after an hour challenge:

Binary numbers: Using trailer on iMovie

Percussion binary

Binary teddies

Binary guy

Applying what we have just learn

Review each other’s videos

Can you recognise any misconceptions about the binary number system that
have appeared in a video?

What made the videos interesting or appealing that another person might
be able to learn from them?

Lesson reflection

How can you use these videos to support others to learn about the
binary number system?

What were the key points that are now clear about the binary number
system now that you’ve created your video?

What questions do you have after making this video in relation to the
binary number system?
(Typically responses are that they want to understand further how binary
numbers are used to show letters, images, videos and all things
on a computer - these topics are covered in further lesson plans)

Seeing the Computational Thinking connections

Throughout the lessons there are links to computational thinking. Below we've noted some general links that apply to this content.

Teaching computational thinking through CSUnplugged activities supports students to learn how to describe a problem, identify what are the important details they need to solve this problem, break it down into small logical steps so that they can then create a process which solves the problem, and then evaluate this process. These skills are transferable to any other curriculum area, but are particularly relevant to developing digital systems and solving problems using the capabilities of computers.

These Computational Thinking concepts are all connected to each other and support each other, but it’s important to note that not all aspects of Computational Thinking happen in every unit or lesson. We’ve highlighted the important connections for you to observe your students in action. For more background information on what our definition of Computational Thinking is see our notes about computational thinking.

Algorithmic thinking

Examples of what you could look for:

Do students demonstrate how the binary number system works by explaining, systematically, what is happening to work out the binary representation of a given number?

Abstraction

Examples of what you could look for:

Ask students to look at a video created and list the features of the objects used that are important to demonstrate the binary number system and those that aren’t relevant at all. e.g. using Maths teddy bears - having the back or front showing is important, the colour of the teddy isn’t important, the size of the teddy isn’t important.

Decomposition

Examples of what you could look for:

Watch a video and ask students to point out one element in it that is decomposition e.g. this could be when a single bit out of a group is determined to be on or off.

Generalising and patterns

Examples of what you could look for:

Have students review three videos and ask what do these videos have in common and what is different about them.

Logic

Examples of what you could look for:

Finding errors or misconceptions in the videos may exercise some logical reasoning.

Evaluation

Examples of what you could look for:

Have students consider the number of bits used in each demonstration, and the difference this makes in the range of values that can be represented.

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