Stanley Road School Week 2

Jack Simpson

Head of Marketing and Communications

I know it was you, Fredo.

This Week’s Mission: Binary

This week the young agents at the Stanley Road School were introduced to the world of binary numbers so they could write and decipher the numerical mysteries.

You can teach binary in a lot of different ways. With the agency recruits this week we took a stab at the Socratic Method of asking questions so the recruits could discover the answers on their own; this method seemed preferable than us just telling them a list of facts.

So, audience, what is binary?

Binary is how computers communicate, it is a way of counting using only 1 and 0, sometimes represented by True and False, Yes and No or On and Off.

If normal counting goes from 0-9, Binary counting is limited to 0-1. Instead of counting all the way to 9 to start over at 1(10), we start over at 1.

So the numbers 1-9 in binary would be:

1, 10, 11, 100, 101, 111, 1000, 1001, 1010

So that is the basis of Binary, it’s all you need to know for the foundation. Now we wanted to figure out how to make bigger numbers, surely we can’t just keep listing these binary numbers forever, how would you remember any of them? There is a better way.

Think of each column as numbers.

First is the column of 1s. that goes on the far right.

Then each column doubles, so 2…then 4….then 8…then 16. The second column numbers (10, 11) are 2 and 3, so the number 4 gets a new column (100, 101, 110, 111) which gives us 4,5,6,7 and so the number 8 gets a new column (1000, 1001, etc.) until 16 and so on.

So when writing out the numbers, think of the columns

____ _____ _____ _____ _____
16 8 4 2 1

To make the number 3, you would put a 1 in the 2 column and a 1 in the 1 column (which looks like 11) and you know it make 3 because 1+2=3.


____ _____ _____ _1_ _1_
16 8 4 2 1

To make the number 27 you would put 1s in the 16, 8, 2, 1 columns (because 16 + 8 + 2 + 1 = 27) and a 0 in the 4 column to make the number 27, so it would look like 11011 in binary.

__1_ __1__ __0__ _1_ _1_
16 8 4 2 1

To make bigger numbers you just add columns to the left, each column is double the one before it so next to 16 would be 32, then 64 then 128, then 256 and so on.

So if a secret message said, put 18 pence in an envelope, the 18 could be secretly written as 10010. Fun isn’t it?

So that’s binary. We hope we made it clear, if not there are many websites devoted to helping teach and learn the method. Here are a couple sites that we found useful.