#1 The Language of Computers

Do you think computers, phones and tablets are smart? What if we told you that all they understand is two numbers? Stay tuned because this is going to be an eye-opening activity.

You will never think of technology the same way after learning Binary Numbers and Text Encoding!

puzzle
There are only 10 types of people in the world: the ones that understand binary and the ones who don’t!

Did you not get the joke? Don’t worry! We are here to help you brush up on your Computer Language skills!

hello smart parents

BEFORE WE BEGIN!

If you are not familiar with the activities, please take the time to review the instructions for an optimal learning experience:

hello smart cookies!

LET’S START OUR ADVENTURE?!

We want to introduce you to Dottie and Zac. Dottie is an enthusiastic, ingenious, quick-minded mom who’s curious to understand the world around her. Her son Zac is a very inquisitive, positive and creative kid with a thirst for knowledge.

Join Dottie and Zac while they investigate the secrets around an old computer they found in the attic of their new house. They will need your help to unveil this mystery! 

This is going to be no easy feat, but it will definitely be worthwhile fun adventure!

mission #1
Translate your name to the Language of Computers!

Your first mission is to communicate with that old computer. 

the story

Zac: Mom, look what I found in the attic!

Dottie: Interesting… That looks like some sort of really old computer! I wonder if it still works?! Let’s try to turn it on!

Zac: OH wow, it is on!!! Hmm… it is asking for an username! But wait, this computer is missing a keyboard, I will grab one.

Dottie: I don’t think that will work with this computer Zac. There is no keyboard connector. I think these two are the only keys on it…

Zac: So, how are we meant to type in an username?

Dottie: Well, I guess we will have to work with what we have…
Zac: But, this computer only has only two keys: 0 and 1!
Dottie: That rings a bell! Considering this is a very primitive computer, it probably only understands the language of computers.

Zac: What do you mean? Computers have a language?

Dottie:  Yes, it is called binary language which only uses binary numbers: zeros and ones

Zac: That’s nuts! So it is like they have a language of their own made up of a bunch of zeros and ones?!
Dottie: Yes, exactly. No letters, no other numbers, no sound, no colours, no emojis. Nothing but zeros and ones. That is mind boggling, right?
Zac: Sure it is! But that will only make it even more difficult for us to access this computer… Because we will need to find out the username and translate it the computer language to input to the computer.

Dottie: Yes, that sounds right and the computer language is binary code! Do you have a strategy for guessing the username?

Zac: Well, can we find out the name of the people who used to live here? That would be a great start…

Dottie: Hmm, I am afraid we can’t…

Zac: In that case, I suppose we can just start guessing random names. But, we need to find out how to translate that into the Language of Computers, or should I say binary language?

Dottie: That is correct, well done! I can help you with that. 

Zac: That would be great, thank you very much! I am feeling as lost as last year’s Easter egg. Where can we start?

Dottie: Let’s break down our complex problem into smaller ones: First, understand how binary numbers work. Second, understand how to translate letters to binary. What do you think the last step could be?

Zac: Try all possible usernames we can think about?

Dottie: Yes, that sounds like a solid plan, doesn’t it?! Well done SMART Cookie! In more technical words, we will use what is called ASCII table to convert characters to decimal numbers, then we can convert the decimal numbers to binary numbers.

Thanks mom, I have been reading some interesting books, but none of the mentioned this ASCII table. There is only one problem, I think I will run out of username ideas pretty fast…

Dottie: Well, perhaps you could ask your friends for some help! 

Zac: That is a great idea! I am sure they would be very helpful and enjoy investigating this challenge. Can I count on you guys? Let’s get to work, I can’t wait to see what is in this computer!
TASK #1

binary numbers

You will master the language of computers – also known as binary language, binary numbers or binary code.

We searched the web and found this great video featuring Ulka and Topher! They did a great job explaining how to find the binary representation of a decimal numbers. Let’s check it out:
Wow, that was tough work, wasn’t it? Well done!!!

Don’t worry if you are still a bit confused. We prepared an activity sheet to help you! It sums up the keys ideas covered in video and some fun practice activities that will get you fluent in Binary! 

activity sheet

You should refer to the Activity sheet now!

Make sure to complete Pages 1 and 2 before moving on to the next step as you will need to understand it very well!

Hint! You may find it helpful to play the video again and pause as you go through the it.

Key Point

Computers are made up of really tiny switches, which are called transistors. Computers use binary numbers to stand for the transistor state. Transistor off = 0. Transistor on = 1.

Well, after all the hard work, we hope you can finally get the joke from the beginning of this post and you can find another one below! Now it’s time to build on your hard work so far and apply your newly gained knowledge to bring binary numbers to life.

puzzle

How easy is it to count in binary?
It’s as easy as 01 10 11.

Did you not get the joke? Try to think what the numbers mean in binary?!

TASK #2

ASCII to decimal and binary

You will become proficient in translating any type of text to binary code.
We love learning by watching animations and hope you like them too! Here is another one that will help us understand how to translate characters to binary using an ASCII table.

That was much easier than working out the conversion from decimal to binary, wasn’t it?  Well done in learning how binary numbers work and how to use convert letters to number using the ASCII table! You are ready to complete your mission!!!

activity sheet

You should refer to the Activity sheet now!

You can use Page 3 in the Activity Sheet to help you find the binary number for the each of the letters in your name.

Hint! Once you are done, come back here to check your answer using our translator.

Zac:  Now, it is your turn my SMART friends to try and see if your name is a valid username for this antique computer?

computer language translator

Smart Edu

learn more about computers!

Zac: I understand now how to computers turn binary code into letters we can actually read. But, how can we they turn complex things like colours, images, audios and videos into such a simple language?
Dottie: I am glad you asked! Images are just a collection of colours on the screen. Audio is a collection of sound waves. Video is a collection of images that are played one after the other very quickly, with audio in the background. So, all you need to understand is how to turn colours and sound into binary code.
Here is another great animation explaining how computers use binary numbers to encode colours and audio too.

WELL DONE!!!

👏Great work translating your name to The Language of Computers! Comment below your name and the Binary translation, so we know that you completed your mission.

🙏 Support us by letting your friends know about SMART Edu Challenge using the buttons below! 

Smart Edu

👇 Comment below your name and the Binary translation, so we know that you completed your mission. 🙌

Stay tuned!

Activity #2: Secret Messages Disclosed

The mysterious computer will send a few encrypted secret messages. What do they say?! You are going to have to learn to encode them to find out! 

32 thoughts on “#1 The Language of Computers”

  1. Great initiative – thank you to whoever out it together.
    Videos superb – education/amusement balance right, production values first class.
    Website a little “scrolley”

    1. Hi George, we are delighted to hear you enjoyed it! Thank you so much for your feedback. We have adapted Activity 2 to make the website less scrolley. We love hearing people’s thoughts about our content and welcome feedback with open arms.

    1. Well done Samantha, your name is longer, so harder to translate, but I guess the A’s helped a bit 🙂 I hope you have enjoyed the lesson and come back for Activity 2!

  2. 01010100 01001000 01000101 010010000 01010101 01001101 01000001 01001110 01010011 01000001 01010010 01000101 01000101 01000101 01000001 0100101

    1. Hello Daire, well done in learning Binary Numbers and ASCII Encoding! I only got the first part of your message -> The humans are. Curious to know that the last word is 🙂

  3. Thanks this was fun!

    Annie 1000001 1101110 1101110 1101001 1100101

    (also delighted to know she has a Binary birthday (10 01 11)!)

    1. Well done Annie! We are delighted to hear that you enjoy it. That is a great idea, we will include the Binary birthday as a suggestion to add in the next version of this activity!

  4. Rosie
    1010010 1101111 1110011 1101001 1100101

    But translator checker says is wrong and I don’t know why?!
    Also, isn’t the example 77 wrong – shouldn’t it be 1001101? Or perhaps it is me that is not getting it?!!

    Thanks though – I love it.

    1. Hi Rosie, we are delighted to hear that you enjoyed the activity. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave us your feedback.
      I will check with our developer why it is not working as I double checked and you have it right, sometimes spaces at the end or beginning can cause error.
      I can’t believe there was a typo there, so many people have already seen it! I have fixed it and have the new version available to anyone joining us now.
      Again thank you so much and hope you try Activity 2!

      1. Hello, Thank you. It is good to know that I am not going mad and do understand! I am trying activity 2 now and I am finding it so fun! Thank you so much for doing this. From Rosie.

    1. Well done Jonatan! We just needed to swap the last digit in the last ‘a’ from 0 to 1 instead 🙂 Somethings get lost in translation, it was a lot of 0s and 1s, what a crazy language, right?!
      We hope to see you soon 1001010 1101111 1101110 1100001 1110100 1100001* 1101110!

  5. Kesja:
    K= 1001011
    e= 1100101
    s= 1110011
    j= 1101010
    a= 1100001

    I really enjoyed the lessons. I also have a partially binary birthday: 10/01/2009

    1. Excellent work Kesja, we are thrilled to her your feedback. That is true, you would also try converting the day and month to binary – even thought they look binary already! We hope that you come back for the next activity 🙂

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