Session 6 – Binary

During this session we looked at binary. At first, this was a confusing aspect to comprehend but after we had done a practical activity the concept became much clearer. Miles asked a few students to come to the front of the class and each hold up the numbers 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, and 32. CS unplugged demonstrates the activity we done and this was what allowed binary to become more understandable to me.

I have used BBC Bitesize  to recap my knowledge about binary and found that all data that a computer processes has to be converted into the binary format and is represented as a sequence of 1s and 0s (on and off). The binary system is also known as the ‘base 2’ system (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, etc.) because there are only 2 digits to choose from (1 and 0), and when using the binary system, data is converted using the power of 2. Teaching children about binary can have an effective cross-curricular link with maths so it is worth including this within the teaching of ICT. However, I believe it may be difficult to teach children as there are many different rules to remember, for example, 1+1 = 10; therefore I would only attempt to teach it to children in upper KS2 as it will most probably be confusing!

We also looked at the Russian Peasants rule for multiplication during the lecture and I was unable to understand this! Therefore I have looked at the BBC website to gain an understanding of it. I have learnt that this is a method to multiply two numbers together and requires only the abilities to double or halve a number, and to add up. So if you were multiplying 68 and 42 for example, you would write the two numbers beside each other – halve the first number and double the second number. You would carry on this process until the number on the left is reduced to 1.

68   42

34   84

17   168

8     336

4     672

2    1344

1     2688

You then have to cross out all the rows where the numbers on the left hand side are even:

68   42

34   84

17   168

8     336

4     672

2     1344

1     2688

Then add up all the numbers left on the right hand side to give you the total to the multiplication 68×42. So 168 + 2688 = 2856.

After doing further research about the Russian Peasants system I fully understand how it works now. I think this is a very interesting multiplication method but I would never teach it as a separate maths lesson for a method to working out multiplication. However I would teach it within an ICT lesson as it would be interesting for pupils to be able to see how a computer uses this process.

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