with Leigh Ann Yoder
We are off to a great start in CSU, and WOW did we cover a lot this week! I started with an introduction to the class and an overview of some of the things we will be learning this semester. The goal of the class is to familiarize the students with computers which are EVERYWHERE in their lives. It makes sense to understand how they work. It is also important to think about the social issues, performance issues and human issues which computers present to us every day. All students will learn what the field of Computer Science really is, and hopefully, a few will become interested enough to pursue it further.
We jumped right into our first unit called Data: The Raw Material. Students now understand the difference between data and information. Data is the raw material that computers work with and information is the real-world entity that is represented by the data. Our focus this week was how data is stored and transmitted as a series of zeros and ones, also known as binary numbers. The students applied the concept and learned how to represent words and numbers in binary code.
For fun, ask your student how high they can count using the fingers on just one hand (hint…the answer is not five) -- you might be surprised! Then ask them to show you how.
We had a mini-math lesson comparing the binary system to the decimal system. I only expect students to have a general understanding of these higher-level math concepts. Often I will teach concepts that I know are above many of the students, but this brief exposure will hopefully aid them as they progress in their studies. For students that are interested in learning more about number systems, here is a great video:
If students want to practice the skill of converting numbers between binary, octal, decimal and hexadecimal, here are some worksheets. They should have a basic understanding of how data is managed in RAM (electricity), on a hard drive (magnetism) and on DVD's (using light). They should also be familiar with the terms bit, byte, and ASCII. Most importantly, they should understand how a computer stores numbers and letters.
I told you we covered a lot! I hope the students enjoyed the first class and are excited to learn more about the field of Computer Science.