10 – 12

How computers work


How computers work

What to do with this activity?

Does your child know that, on computers or smart phones, all the letters, words, numbers, videos, pictures and sounds are translated by the computer into just two numbers - 1 and 0? Each number is called a "bit" and corresponds to being either switched off (a zero) or switched on (number 1). This is called a binary code. 

Here's a TedX video that shows you how sounds, pictures and everything else are expressed with just ones and zeros. Don't try to figure out every single thing - it's enough to understand it in general terms.

If you have a child who enjoys mathematics, see if you can translate numbers from 2 upwards into binary code. Maths is Fun shows you how here



  • Why am I doing this?

    Maths makes sense to children when they use it in everyday life - like measuring things, working out distances, estimating food for dinner or money for groceries. The more opportunities you give your child to use the maths they learn at school through everyday activities the more they will understand and enjoy working with numbers.

  • How can I do more?

    Discuss maths that you see around you. For example, talk about sales in shops – half price, 25% off, what is good value? Or how much will the item cost after the discount?

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