Binary Bracelets is a terrific STEM event activity from Code.org that combines an introduction to binary and a fun craft. Binary is a method to represent information with only 2 options – on and off. A regular light switch is an example of binary – it is either on or off with no in between. Computers see information in binary as on or off.
How do computers go from understanding a simple on or off to letters, numbers, and other characters? They see 8 of these on/off bits as a single group or byte that combines to form a specific, unique character.
At the STEM events, kids made their initials, names, or words in binary using contrasting blue and white beads to represent on and off with string and the Binary Bracelet Worksheet. This is an easy activity you can do at home with any 2 types of beads – they can be different colors or different shapes. (If you don’t have beads or string, you can also do it on strips of paper on the Binary Decoder Key.)
Here’s how to do it:
- Pick out initials, a name or a word to write out. (Three initials makes a good length and easy activity for elementary school-aged kids.)
- Cut a piece of string or cord (make it extra long so there’s enough room to tie the bracelet when done).
- Find the 1st letter on the Binary Decoder Key.
- Put the corresponding dark and white beads on the Binary Decoder Key template.
- Put the beads on the string in the same order.
- Repeat steps 3, 4, and 5 for the remaining letters.
- Tie the string together securely with a double knot (or a fancier knot if you know how) and trim the ends.
- Wear the binary bracelet with pride!
This fun, coding activity is a crafty way for kids to understand how computers understand information! Plus, they’ll feel like they know a secret code!