Kids STEM ActivitiesJune 7th 2018

Code your name in binary

Download your copy of the Binary Cheat sheet here 

01001000 01100101 01101100 01101100 01101111 00100001

This might just look like a line of zeros and ones but actually it says ‘Hello’ in binary code. Absolutely everything you see on a screen – whether it’s images, an app or video games is made up from combinations of zeros and ones called Binary Code. This how to activity was inspired by our doll, Tessa the Teacher

What is Binary Code?

Binary code is how computers and pretty much most of the technology around us works. It is the way that most computers and computerised devices ultimately send, receive, and store information. 

Binary is the language that computers understand and creates instructions for what they need to do. The zeros and ones in binary are used to represent turning off (zero) or turning on (one) electrical signals.  Rather than using a decimal system like we do with at base of 10 that goes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and then starts over by adding a 0. Binary goes 0, 1 and then starts over at 10.

Tessa the Teacher doll by OK!Dolls   Emma the Engineer doll by OK!Dolls

BITS and BYTES of information

A ‘bit’ is a Binary Digitial, the smallest unit of information and can only be a zero OR a one. Thats not a lot of information so strings of ‘bits’ are needed. 8 bits is called a ‘byte’ or Binary Term and it is the size usually used to represent a letter of the alphabet.  Putting bytes together helps to form words and therefore more complex instructions for computers.

You may have heard the term gigabyte? This is equal to a one thousand million bytes. That’s a lot of information and its made up of lots of strings of zeros and ones!

Code is the language of computers so developers and engineers needs to understand how to use it to create things and give computers the instructions to build websites, apps and software.   There are a lot of other jobs and professions that use code and computer programming in their daily work such as Engineers, Scientists, Teachers and Web Developers – are there any others you can think of?

Now it’s your turn to use binary to create something.  In our video we use dyed pasta and pipe cleaners to create each letter but this activity could easily be adapted to whatever you have at home – coloured beads, squares of coloured card or even lining up painted stones.

An extension to this activity: create a secret message for someone to decipher using multiple strings

Download your copy of the Binary Cheat sheet here