Teachers' Kit: Introduction to Binary Numbers

This is a one-period (50 minute) lesson that introduces the concept of base two numbers. It is intended for grades 6-10, but has been used successfully with third graders. The lecture material has a Coleman-Liau Index of six.

  • Teachers' notes (PDF) including learning objectives and things to watch for.
  • Why computers use binary numbers A short reading for teachers with a bit more detail than the slides. Introduces two important facts that could be explained to older students.
  • Video lecture (15 minutes, closed captions) The video can be played directly from the web site or downloaded. If you download a copy, check back from time to time because I do update these.
  • Short handout Assumes the students are comfortable with positional number systems and will fit on front and back of a single sheet. Available in PDF or MS Word 2016.
  • Longer handout This one includes a review of decimal numbers and the concept of positional number systems; may be best for lower grades. PDF or MS Word 2016.
  • Binary cards front back PDF for printing on Avery business card forms. A pack of 20 sheets makes cards for 40 students. Use Avery 05871 for laser printers or Avery 08871 for ink jet printers. Larger packages are available.
  • Online Cards This page can replace paper cards in settings where students have computers available. (I believe paper cards are preferable as they also teach the importance of place location. The online cards are permanently properly arranged.)  This page works best with Firefox.
  • Lecture slides (PowerPoint 2016) This is the same material that's presented in the video, minus some animations, for teachers who would rather present this themselves than use the video. Each slide includes speakers' notes. We ask that you leave the Kennesaw State logo on the slides because we want your students to know that Kennesaw State is supporting them.

This material is based on an exercise from CS Unplugged. It is intended primarily for teachers, but it is available for anyone to use for teaching and learning.

Feedback and criticism are most welcome, particularly if you use this material in the classroom. I can be reached at Bob.Brown@Kennesaw.edu.

If you use this material in the classroom, I'd appreciate a note telling me which school and approximately how many students were reached. I do a quarterly report to the dean, and I can get credit for students reached in this manner.

I can present this material in person at schools in the Atlanta area. My availability calendar is on line. Please contact me at the address above. The only requirement is that a teacher must be present during the presentation and be responsible for classroom management. I will provide a set of binary cards for each student; I ask that the school duplicate copies of the handout for each student.


Copyright © 2018 by Kennesaw State University.
Creative Common BY-NC-SA License

Last updated: 2020-11-10 06:48
Originally published: 2018-04-02