Activity for ages 6 to 8.
We’ve all heard it a million times. In an increasingly techy world, computer coding is “the wave of the future”. But what does “coding” really mean and how in the world are we supposed to actually TEACH it?!
Thankfully, teaching kids computer code has never been easier! This STEM challenge pack explains what “binary code” means and how computers, CDs, DVDs and apps use it to communicate.
Then students jump in and start writing code of their own!
The pack is a perfect STEM challenge or MakerSpace for late kindergarten, first grade or second grade.
What is Binary Code?
You can think of binary code as a second language. Computers, CDs, DVDs and apps can communicate numbers, letters, symbols… even sounds and video to one another using just two digits: 0 and 1. (The prefix “bi” is Latin for “two”.)
In a binary string with 8 digits (also called “bits”), there are 256 possible order combinations for the 0s and 1s. For instance, an uppercase A is written with the binary code 01000001 but a lowercase a is written 01100001.
In this activity, students are “translating” written words into strings of 8 bit binary code.
To prep, I simply printed the binary code key on cardstock and cut along the middle line to separate the halves. Then I ran it through the laminator to give it extra durability.
The challenge cards came next. There were 3 sets of pre-written cards for beginners in the set and 10 blanks for kids who were ready for more difficulty.
Since this would be Big Brother’s (age 6.5) first time coding, I printed one of the pre-written sets on cardstock, cut apart the cards and ran them through the laminator so I could easily wipe the answers clean when he was finished.
Binary Coding for Kids
After talking about what binary coding means, Big Brother was eager to jump in and give it a try.
Using the key, he grabbed a card and carefully filled in the missing binary code. H was 01001000, E was 01000101 and so on.
When he’d worked his way through the stack, Big Brother came over to check his answers with my master key. Needing only a few very minor tweaks, his coding was nearly 100% correct.
Although Big Brother wasn’t ready for the extra challenge yet, I included a set of 10 blank cards in the pack so children could make up their own puzzles for friends to solve.
And, for classroom teachers who need an easy way to collect answers, I also created printable record sheets students can turn in for checking.