Get to know the bits and the bytes

Topic: Binary system, ASCII Code

Abstract: The stimulus is a painting of two images in black and white of the famous painter Pablo Picasso. Then they used paper to draw the black colour. They learn about the binary numeral system in computers, and the ASCII Code.

Then they formed with themselves a series of 8 bits (8 students for 8 bits) holding the white papers and the black ones, according to the ASCII code creating the word CAT.

Learning objectives:

  • The students identify the concept of binary bit
  • The students identify the Byte concept
  • The students identify the ASCII code

Teachers’ profile: (team transversality): Computer Scientist

Advisable age of students: 13+   (Flexible according to the curriculum of specific country)

Total duration: 1 teaching hour

Materials: Projector, paper and pencils

Phase 1   Visualisation                10 min   

The stimulus is a painting of two images in black and white of the famous painter Pablo Picasso.

The students identified the two colours and they recalled other famous paintings of the painter like Guernica. They talked about Guernica and what it symbolizes. In that painting identified many colors.

They made a comparison between the two paintings of Picasso in the terms of colors.

Phase 2   Artistic action and experimentation     10 min   

The students used paper to draw the black colour.

Then they formed with themselves a series of 8 bits (8 students for 8 bits) holding the white papers and the black ones, according to the ASCII code creating the word CAT. For each letter the 8 students selected the appropriate series of papers (black and white) consulting the ASCII code.

To liven up the representation, they also called the bit that each students was representing and all together the letter they formed.

At the end they drew a cat.

  • Phase 3:   Reflexion and debateDuration:     25’

We talked about the binary numeral system, a method of mathematical expression which uses only two symbols: typically “0” (zero) and “1” (one), compared to black colour and the white colour respectively and corresponds to two states

  • the condition in which no current flows through a wire and
  • the state in which current flows through a wire

It was explained that the binary system is used by almost all modern computers and computer-based devices, as a preferred system of use, over various other human techniques of communication, because of the simplicity of the language.

They learned that there is a code, ASCII Code, that according to that every character (letter, number, symbol) is transformed to a series of 8 bits, which forms a byte.

The students seemed to understand the above and to answer correctly to the questions of the teacher at the end of the class. They enjoyed their participation in forming the bytes a lot.

Comments, possiblederivations,and prolongations of theproposal: The bits and the bytes can be used also to the explanation of the serial and parallel connections in the computer.

Get to know the bits and the bytes

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