Teaching Binary to 8th Graders

| teaching | binary | google

This summer, as part of GoogleServe, I volunteered in a local school to teach kids about the importance of mathematics. This was part part of a larger program organised by the Silicon Valley Education Foundation (SVEF).

I had 90 minutes, to introduce myself, talk a little about Google, and then spend the majority of the time teaching a topic of my choosing. Not knowing anything about teaching 8th graders I went to the Internet to find some material.

I quickly found cse4k12.org, and the excellent YouTube series by csunplugged.org. I decided I would teach about counting in binary. The csunplugged videos showed how to introduced this material in a way that seemed fun and got got the kids to work out the concepts on their own. I decided to mix the teaching with worksheets from cse4k12.org (to reinforce what the kids just learnt). Since I only had ~90 minutes to cover a lot, I took what I found on cse4k12.org and simplified their activities. I went ahead and created new worksheets, and am providing them here today for others to use. The rough schedule I used was:

  • 10min Intro to counting in binary, with kids holding up bits (similar to this video).

  • 15min Work on this “Counting In Binary” worksheet.

  • 10min Representing text (again similar to this video)

  • 15min Using “Encoding Table” and “Encoding Message” worksheets to write some secret messages to each other.

  • 10min Representing images with binary.

  • 15min Using the “Bitmaps” worksheets to encode their own images, and if time allows swapping encoded images with each other to decode.

All in all, this worked quite well. I learnt a lot, and was happy to see the class engaged! I will certainly be taking part in activities like this again.

P.S I found printing all sheets double sided worked really well. Oh and no computers needed! Put those laptops away.