Thursday, October 27, 2016

Why is learning Binary hard?

Why is learning Binary (and various number bases) so hard for students? I don't remember how exactly there were taught to me except that it was in either the 5th or 6th grade and that I took to it like a duck takes to water. It was just such a cool thing and so obvious to me. For weeks I played around with changing decimal numbers into numbers in other number bases.

Maybe it was because I learned it early. For example, my HS students seem to have trouble wrapping their head around "5 divided by 2 is 2 with a remainder of 1." It takes about 15 minutes for everyone to stop answering "2.5"

At the end of a period they seem to have gotten most of it down. At least they can convert Binary to decimal. Going the other way is still a bit iffy.

I'm always looking for new tools for the purpose of teaching Binary. Any suggestions for teaching the topic?


Auro said...

I really like using this game with my students:

I found it when searching for "Binary Fun," which happens to be the name of the game!

Garth said...

I use a ruler to teach bases. If they get it wrong I hit them with a ruler. Catholic school. We can do that. Just kidding. It is interesting on how some kids pick it up right away and others do not have a clue. The clueless always seem to be missing some basics. Usually an understanding of the simple things like place value, powers and old school long division. One of the first things they ask is if the calculator can do the conversions. They are always so excited when I tell them they are going to write a program to do the conversions. Just kidding again.