Intro to Binary Numbers

What is Binary Code?

binary code

Depending on your audience and skillset, you can either communicate using English, Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, French, German, etc., However, when computers communicate, they use one language--binary!

computer hardware

Computers use binary code because it is a realiable way of storing data. Computers use transistors (the computers main memory) that switch between either a high frequency or a low or the other. On or Off. Zero or One.

Unplugged Activity on Binary

To better understand how we use binary code, you can use a palpable exercise using cards. Print and cut out the cards (found on the last page of the pdf) before you begin.


Extended Lesson (Online)

Test out your NEW knowledge of converting binary to decimal and vice versa by competing in this fun and interactive binary game.

Compete against your family & friends for the highest score!

How to play

The object is to solve each line by either counting up the value of binary bits that are turned on and giving their decimal equivalence or by turning on the binary bits to match the given decimal number.

You have a limited amount of time to get as many lines solved before they reach the top of the frame, which ends the game. Sort of like Tetris.

Real World Connections

Figure 1.1

Figure 1.1 power button

The next time you look at a surge protector, or a vacuum cleaner, or any device with an on and off switch, look out for the “zero” and “one” labels.  (Figure 1.1) As we just learned in the card activity, zero indicates “off” and 1 represents “on”, the same applies to these switches.


More Resources on Binary

For more information on why computers use binary code, check out this YouTube video.