Before we begin, let's review the decimal number system. Why does 453 represent 453? (Silly question, I know...but there is a point!)

453 = (4 x 100) + (5 x 10) + (3 x 1)

Today we are going to look out how we can use binary digits (bits) to represent numbers since computers don't use the decimal system. I will need four volunteers to come to the front of the room!

  • Each person is holding a card with a certain number of dots on one side and NO dots on the other
  • What do you notice about the number of dots on the cards? How many dots would the next card have if we carried on to the left?
  • Let's flip some cards over so the dots aren't showing. Which cards would we have to flip over to make 6? 15? 9?
  • When a card is not showing, we can represent that with a zero. When it is showing, we'll use a one. What number does the binary pattern 1011 represent? What would 13 be in binary?

Group activity (Breakout!)

  • Using your cards, figure out the highest number possible you can represent
  • Count from 0 to the highest number using the cards. What pattern, if any, do you notice?
  • Is there more than one way to get any number?
  • What happens when you put a zero on the left of a binary number? What happens when you put a zero on the right of a binary number?
  • Expert challenge: Try making the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 in order again. Can you work out a logical and reliable method of flipping the cards to increase ANY number by 1?

An awesome Kahn Academy video!

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