Friday, April 15, 2016

Teaching Binary with a Clock

There has been a Binary clock on my desk at school for some years now. I like using it to help students learn Binary numbers. A few years ago I wrote a software version to display on my white board so everyone could see it. (More on that at Can You Explain the Binary Clock?) It works pretty well but today I got an idea. Wouldn’t it be better to have the students set the values in the clock?

Binary time

A few minutes work over lunch and I modified the program to let me display an empty set of circles that I could have students fill in.

I brought students to the board and gave them a time and asked them to fill in the circles to show the time requested. I think it was a lot easier than it would have been without the template on the white board. It probably let me get more students up at the board working things out which is a plus.

This exercise seemed to work out pretty well today with most students seeming to get the hang of things quickly. After that we talked a bit more about how computers store information using Binary numbers.

Later I remembered how little kids learn to tell time by setting the hands of toy clocks to different times. I wonder if students still learn analog clocks in kindergarten and first grade?

BTW my primary blog list of Resources For Teaching Binary Numbers can be found at this link. I’m always looking to update it with new resources so let me know about any you might use. Thanks.

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