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Number Bases

September 29, 2013

Over the past couple of weeks I have had the opportunity to work with some Grade Six students on extensions to their regular mathematics studies. At first my intention was to provide some extension beyond the normal Grade Six learning outcomes. Our first task was to examine converting between different number bases and base ten. I have since come to realize the value of this content in better understanding place value. Students quickly made connections with the importance of using zero as a place holder and indicating no value in a particular digit after working with base 2.

Counting in Base 2

Our lesson started with students being asked to “turn the lights half on.” This results in a few laughs and the realization that there are times when only two conditions exist, such as in base 2, and times when there are multiple conditions possible, such as a dimmer switch or base 10. To an adult with lots of world experience this is obviously something that can not be done. For students they all want to try.

I also found that linking these ideas to how computers work is a good hook for students and increases the general interest level. Any stories about computers in the past are very interesting. My first purchase of 2 MB of RAM for $1000 was a huge topic of conversation.

Our lessons progressed in phases looking at:

  • Exponents
  • Place Value
  • Scientific Notation
  • Binary Numbers and their use in computers
  • Other Bases
  • Extensions (number bases in history and use with computers)

I hope to refine and extend these lessons but this has not happened yet.

I have placed the information from our school noodle within this post. I am happy to share what I have created to date in exchange for any feedback. Many heads are better than one. If anyone would like the html code please see the attached file linked below in “doc” format. The code can be inserted into Moodle or another html editor and will be displayed as a web page.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 1, 2013 6:49 pm

    How do I get those goodies? I’m excited about your exploration in class and am curious how I can apply it to remedial college math students.

    • October 1, 2013 7:08 pm

      Can you access the file above. Look at the end and click on the word “number bases”. A few people have looked it over and given me some suggestions. I am hoping to make some changes soon.

  2. deniseflick permalink
    October 3, 2013 12:17 pm

    Hi Richard Do you have a webpage or moodle that already has the Number Bases info embedded? I have a teacher that would like to access. Thanks! Denise

    • October 5, 2013 8:25 pm

      Hi Denise. I am not sure how to give you access as our moodle is password protected. If I get a chance I will see if it will load on this blog as web page.

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