Computing: Year 7 Code Bracelets from Binary

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01001000 01000101 01001100 01001100 01001111

Can you interpret the above number sequence? Year 7 pupils at Bede's Prep School now can (it is binary code for 'HELLO'!)

As part of their Computing studies, Year 7 have been learning about binary representation.  It is indeed fascinating to see how, at a basic level, all those '1's and '0's are used to represent everything we do on the computer today.

We started by discussing how a computer's processor has many tiny switches that can be either 'on' or 'off'.  The state of these then can be represented using just two digits - '1' and '0'.

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A bitmap image from M Lovegrove.

The children encoded decimal numbers into a string of '1's and '0's, initially using just five binary digits (or 'bits'), which allowed them to represent numbers up to 31.  Indeed, many enjoyed the challenge of counting up to this number using just one hand (their Maths teachers might need to look out for children now counting in this way when a calculator is not available!)

We then looked at representing larger numbers using more bits, which became a good reinforcement exercise for their Maths skills; the children learnt how eight bits (one 'byte') can represent decimal numbers up to 255, which then allows for all the characters of the alphabet to be encoded on a computer in both upper and lower cases, along with all the punctuation symbols. 

With this knowledge, the children encrypted their names using a string of bits and sent secret messages to each other in binary!

The children went on to learn how images can be represented at a simple level by a string of bits and produced their own 'bitmap' pictures.

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The topic culminated with the children creating their own 'Binary Bracelets', with coloured beads used to represent the '1's and '0's to produce a piece of futuristic jewellery for them to take away.

The knowledge the children gained from this topic will help open their eyes to the functions of the microprocessor in their future studies, and will demystify what is an interesting area in the language of computers.

And remember Year 7, there are only 10 types of people in this world: those who understand binary and those who don't!

 

Learn more about the Computing department at Bede's Prep >

Learn more about life in Year 7 at Bede's Prep School >