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What do you do when the class ask WHY am I doing this?

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by stobirski, Sep 30, 2018.

  1. stobirski

    stobirski New commenter

    I teach Computer Science to children in the Secondary School arena. When I do a lesson I always try to explain WHAT we are doing ahe WHY it is relevant to them. However, when it comes to couting systems I struggle. If you are a year 7 or 8 you cannot just say: "learn it because is it in the exam." It doesn't wash! Does anyone have any ideas? I am looking for a compelling reason to learn 010101010?
    pepper5 likes this.
  2. teselectronic

    teselectronic Occasional commenter

    Emphasise that electronic engineers and electronic design engineers need to apply binary operations and there are, plenty of well paid, interesting jobs, that require this application!
    pepper5 and FrankWolley like this.
  3. elder_cat

    elder_cat Lead commenter

    Hi @stobirski

    The computer would interpet any given voltage as either 'high' or 'low', so we only really need to model either of those possibilities. It makes sense to do this using Binary, as it only has two possible values, either '1' or ''0'.

    The computer doesn't actually use Binary. But using it allows us humans an easier way of modelling the voltages present in the computer's circuits.

    It's a lot easier to visualise a series of High-Low inputs as a Binary value, than it would be to use the actual voltage values:

    3.475, 3.449, 3.33758, 3.4994, 3.4783, 3.494, 3.33577, 3.50001 ​

    Would the attached be of any use ? Something I put together to explain why we use Binary specifically with computers. Won't let me upload it in HTML format, had to do it using PDF format, hence the slightly odd formatting.

    Attached Files:

  4. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    Everything in computers is controlled or represented in binary. 0 represents off, zero, not present, no whilst 1 represents on, one, present or yes. All logic is done using binary operations ( mainly And, OR, NAND, NOR & NOT)
    All data and programs are stored in binary. Without binary there is no computer.
    pepper5 likes this.
  5. armandine2

    armandine2 Established commenter

    that didn't take long at all - no idea what it means
    pepper5 likes this.
  6. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    tell them "that 's a very good question, why don't you go away and research for yourself why this is so important,"

    and offer a small incentive for the best reply, and let that student stand up and explain it to the class
    pepper5 likes this.
  7. AlexOl

    AlexOl New commenter

    I would recommend teaching some of the history of computer science and some of the people involved in its development. The drama of human life makes the abstractions more palatable and frames the student in something historically tangible and understandable. Place the use of binary in the context of the history of people trying to make a computer, like the code breakers in the WW2. Maybe hint at qubits and quantum computing and the possibilities there. Many students are attracted to the strange and dramatic, and when abstract information is framed in it, it becomes bearable and sometimes even enjoyable.

    It's probably too short a notice, but you can also create a group project to physically construct a simple analogue computer to show how binary is used to communicate and store data. Maybe even talk about basic information theory and its role in the world now and in history. Tactile experiences with theory sometimes engage the more hands-on students. I hope this helps.
  8. install

    install Star commenter

    Its a form of communication. And all communication matters :cool:
    Piranha likes this.

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