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Year 6

When students in Year 6 learn about Federation in History, a discussion around the YES/NO vote of the referendum provides an opportunity to consider binary situations in our world.
What is binary voting?
A binary vote allows only one answer from two possibilities, e.g. Yes/No. In order to win in a binary vote, you need to obtain a simple majority (half the total number of votes, plus one).
Binary all around us
After linking the idea of the referendum vote to the binary concept, students can brainstorm other situations that have only two possible states. We can describe these twostate systems as "digital" as we could represent them with binary, but situations that have limitless possibilities are "analogue". Students can sort ideas into digital and analogue situations and discuss their thinking.
Counting binary votes
Students could design a voting card that could be used in a referendum for a binary vote. Through discussion, they realise that on a YES/NO voting card there are actually more than two possibilities: a voter might also try ticking both boxes, or neither box. How could the students develop a system to validate the votes and eliminate the votes that do not count? How could they keep track of the total number of votes so they know that each person has voted only once?
Representing the vote
The Blueberry4 is a computer kit that has been designed to demonstrate to students how computers work. With two of these kits, a class could set up a referendum voting booth. One Blueberry4 would be used to count Yes votes, and the other would count the No votes. As the Blueberry4 has a 4bit memory, it is able to count up to 15. This would be enough for most classes to vote as once a simple majority has been reached, the voting can conclude.
This video demonstrates how the Blueberry4 can be used to show counting using binary numbers.
This video demonstrates how the Blueberry4 can be used to show counting using binary numbers.