Building a Computer 10: More Binary

The activities of my previous post were mostly done by me and my nine-year-old son. My seven-year-old daughter participated in some of it, but not all. So last night when we continued working on understanding computers she had to be caught up on binary and how addition works in binary. We didn’t take the time to develop it as slowly and thoroughly as would have been best, which led to some frustrations. Probably it would have been best to just back-up and let her develop binary herself just like my son had, but we charged ahead anyway.


After our review of binary we watched the video, pausing as each number was loaded into the machine. I had them write each number out in binary, decide what the decimal representation was and write that also. Then I had them do the addition before watching the machine do the addition. They’re still not sure how exactly the machine is coming up with the right answers, but at least they can confirm that it is doing so. I think that for our next session we will make a two-dimensional paper model of the machine, so that we can slowly trace through its operation. I would like for them come up with some notion of logic gates soon and hopefully have them move toward developing Boolean logic. It seems like a stretch that they would move toward Boolean logic spontaneously, and so far I don’t have any really good ideas on how to guide them in that direction. Hopefully I will have The Elements of Computing Systems soon and maybe that will give me some ideas. Also, I need to go by the library and pick up How to Count Like a Martian as Sue suggested in her reply to my previous post.

P.S. Did you notice that I am using binary in my titles?

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One Response to Building a Computer 10: More Binary

  1. Pingback: Building A Computer 11: Machines of Paper « MATH with my KIDS

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