To introduce coding and data representation into the classroom I would create an activity that directly enables students to code and represent formal language through code.
Students must encode a textual message using only numbers. To do this, they make suggestions and then create a correspondence table for the letters and numbers for use by the entire class. They use this table to encode a message that they send as well as to decode a message they receive
- A letter can be represented by a number.
- A text, which is made up of a series of letters, can be represented by a series of numbers.
- Encoding of text refers to replacing its letters with corresponding numbers. Decoding is doing the opposite.
Students will be utilising Experimentation to understand and test
The teacher tells the students that the astronauts want to extend their outing past the initially stated time. However, the wind has picked up. They need to send a message to mission control with a message that starts with:
SEND WEATHER REPORT.
When a pair says they have figured out an encoding strategy, the teacher secretly gives each student a slip of paper with a short worded message with a least one space or a period, such as “GO FASTER.”, “VERY WELL.” or “EVERYTHING IS FINE.”. They ask the students to encode the message for their partner, who must then decode it. The teacher reminds the students that the numbers in the encoded message must all be stuck together, without any spaces or punctuation. The two students verify whether the information has been properly transferred. If not, the pair works to identify the problem and change or improve their strategy.