Friday, 27 June 2014

Flashlight binary

Shine a light on binary with this team based simulation activity.

Flashlight binary enables learners to practise converting from base 10 to binary and vice versa. Co-operation and teamwork are also involved.

Starting points
Learners will need a basic understanding of binary.

·        Prepare folded slips of paper with a base 10 number on each.
·        Divide the class into teams and provide one torch per team.

Suggested approach
Step 1
Give each team a slip of paper with a base 10 number on it. Ask learners to work individually to translate the number into binary.

Step 2
Instruct learners to compare their answers and agree on the binary sequence that the team will transmit.

Stress the importance of working on individual answers and then agreeing a team answer, checking each other’s work and sharing constructive feedback.

Step 3
Ask each team to transmit their binary number to another group, by switching a torch on and off. The receiving team members should write down their answers individually, then compare them and agree on the correct one.

Step 4
Repeat until all learners have mastered the activity and, if possible, have all had a chance to use the torch.

Step 5: Plenary
Invite the groups to summarise learning points and reflect on how well they worked together as a team.

·        Why not allow some time for learners to invent their own extensions and adaptations?
·        No torches available? Try using squares of paper with 0s and 1s written on them.
·        You might like to mention that the Indian mathematician, Pingala, described a binary numerical system as early as 800 BC.

Differentiation to meet individual needs
Challenge confident learners to answer questions requiring higher-level reasoning skills: for example, why do computers use binary instead of base 10? What are its advantages?

Extension suggestions
Instead of binary numbers, you could ask teams to send characters using ASCII, building up to sending whole messages. Learners can then explore serial and parallel transmission, synchronisation and so on.

ASCII - Binary Character Table

Assessment opportunities
Flashlight binary enables you to assess your learners’ understanding of binary, and therefore judge whether you need to revisit the topic. The final step offers opportunities for learners to self- and peer-assess their ability to work with others.

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