Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

*Click to open and customize your own copy of the Binary Lesson Plan

This lesson accompanies the BrainPOP topic Binary, and supports the standard of understanding that computers use binary numbers to represent information and analyzing this differs from base-10. Students demonstrate understanding through a variety of creative projects.


Display an image, or show a real example in your classroom, of a common binary system like the one below: 



Ask students: 

  • Observe the light switch. What are the two conditions you see here?
  • What other common systems have two conditions?


  • Read aloud the description below the Movie player.
  • Play the Movie, pausing to check for understanding. 
  • Have students read one of the following Related Reading articles: “Did You Know” or “Gadgets”. Partner them with someone who read a different article to share what they learned with each other.

Step 3: APPLY
Students synthesize their ideas and express them through one or more of the following creative projects. They can work individually or collaborate.  

  • Make-a-Movie: Create a mini-tutorial explaining how using a binary system helps computers solve problems quicker than a base-10 system.
  • Make-a-Map: Compare and contrast the base-10 number system with the binary system. 
  • Creative Coding: Code a learning game in which players sort words and numbers into the 0-1 binary system. 


Reflect: After sharing creative projects with each other, students reflect on what they’ve learned about the binary system. Prompt them by asking questions such as: 

  • In addition to computers, where else do we see the binary system used in real life?
  • What numbers does a base-10 system use? What numbers does a binary system use?
  • How can the symbols of 0 and 1 represent bigger numbers like 25 or 625?

Assess: Wrap up the lesson with the Binary Quiz

Step 5: Extend Learning

Continue to build understanding around engineering and technology with BrainPOP’s Computer Science topics, games, and teacher resources. 

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments