Computers are amazing devices that enable people to do a wide variety of things with them. People can use them to view information, listen to music, play games and more. In order for computers to work, they must represent the information in some way. All data that is stored within a computer, and transferred from or to a computer, is transmitted as a series of electrical signals that are either on or off.
To process data, whether it be text, images or sounds, the computer must convert the information into binary form. The binary number system is a base-2 number system. This means it only has two numbers: 0 and 1. All information in a computer (words, pictures, movies, sound) is stored and transmitted as sequences of bits, or binary digits.
In Digital Technologies, discrete representation of information using number codes. Data may include characters (for example, alphabetic letters, numbers and symbols), images, sounds and/or instructions that, when represented by number codes, can be manipulated, stored and communicated by digital systems. For example, characters may be represented using ASCII code or images may be represented by a bitmap of numbers representing each 'dot' or pixel.
Learn more about it
This is an online resource for teaching computer science to students. This chapter focuses on data representation.
This 7-minute video explores the nature of representation as an arbitrary communication device.
This 11-minute video explores number representations, including the development of the binary system.
Use this 4-minute video to understand the ten key concepts that underpin the design and content of the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies.
How to teach it
Students explore how electrical energy can be transferred and transformed in electrical circuits, using Makey Makey boards as the basis for experimentation and recoding of data.
In this lesson sequence students design, build and evaluate their own database and perform queries and build reports based on that database. Students should have prior experience creating a flat file database.
Students explore aspects of animal adaptation prior to applying their knowledge to construct their own digital creature using littleBits electronic sets.
In this sequence students learn how the binary number system works and how we can represent text using binary numbers. They also learn one of the representations of the standard English alphabet used by computers. They look at how the same concepts apply to non-text data and analyse the effectiveness of some binary representation techniques to various types of data.
In this sequence of lessons students conduct a simple survey to collect, organise and present data. In doing so, they demonstrate their understanding of how to use patterns to represent data symbolically.
In this sequence of lessons, explore how to help students understand the elements of a digital system including hardware, software and some commonly used peripheral devices. Investigate how these elements work together.
Students explore different types of peripherals used every day to identify the data transmitted. A peripheral is an auxiliary device such as a keyboard that connects to and works with another device for example a computer.
In this lesson sequence students survey and collect data concerning what is brought to school each day and the subsequent rubbish. They then use Excel to represent that data in a variety of ways.
Students survey and collect data concerning what is brought to school each day and the subsequent rubbish. They then use Excel to represent that data in a variety of ways.
Students understand the importance of data in effective decision-making, and are able to find, sort and interpret Bureau of Meteorology rainfall data, and to collect their own data and analyse the resulting datasets.
Students develop an understanding of how computers store and send digital images and they are able to represent images in a digital format.
This short sequence focuses on what a binary number is, what a decimal number is (revision), why binary numbers are important in digital systems and how to read and understand a binary number.
This short guide for students describes the difference between input and output devices.
This is a lesson about representing information and text compression.
For the classroom
This website features a comprehensive list of the official data sets available for the GovHack competition.
What other schools are doing
Bits of Binary
Teachers at Good News Lutheran School are exploring ways to teach the content and skills of the new Digital Technologies Curriculum. The Year 5 teachers collaborated with the Digital Learning Facilitator to present a sequence of lessons introducing the concept of binary numbers through online and unplugged activities.