Patterns Transfer Information – 3 Easy Science Activities

How can you teach fourth graders about using patterns to transfer information? First, introduce Morse Code. Second, explain binary code. Third, discuss simple signals, such as thumbs up and thumbs down. Finally, they’ll be ready to generate solutions to everyday situations requiring patterns.

How can you teach kids that patterns transfer information? First, illustrate the concept with Morse and binary codes. Then point out how people use patterns to communicate in everyday life.

Ms. Sneed Teaches Patterns

Our favorite fourth grade teacher, Ms. Sneed, tapped her finger on the desk and stared into space.

“What are you thinking about?” asked her teaching partner, Mr. Frank.

“More physical science activities,” she replied. “This time it’s that crazy physical science standard, NGSS 4-PS4-3:

Generate and compare multiple solutions that use patterns to transfer information.

Mr. Frank nodded. “I know. Nothing in my teacher education courses prepared me for this one. Evidently we’re integrating coding with our science curriculum.” As usual, he grabbed his laptop, opened it, and started clicking around.

“Several interesting ideas have popped up,” Mr. Frank said. “What about this short patterns unit?” He slid into the chair next to his co-teacher and positioned the laptop so she could see.

Exploring Patterns – Morse Code

“In the first activity,” Mr. Frank explained, “kids look at patterns of dots and dashes that make up the Morse code. Then they write their first and last names in the code. Finally, they tap short messages by tapping on their desks and using a flashlight.”

Ms. Sneed sighed in relief. “That makes total sense. Furthermore, it’s easy. Now I feel so much better about this standard.”

Fourth Grade learn that patterns transfer information when they use a one-page guide to write their own messages in Morse Code.
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Exploring Patterns –  Binary Code

Mr. Frank scrolled through the preview. “In the second activity, students learn about binary code. Then they use it to write their birthdates.”

Ms. Sneed sat up straight and leaned forward, studying the screen. “Now this makes even more sense,” she said. “The standard helps kids conceptualize computer code.”

Patterns transfer information. Kids illustrate this by using binary code to write their birthdates.

Thinking About Everyday Patterns

Mr. Frank scrolled down a bit more. “As a culmination, kids consider all kinds of everyday situations in which patterns are used to communicate. For example, how do our students let us know if they agree or disagree?”

“Thumbs up and down,” Ms. Sneed replied. “Hey, I really like this!”

“Also, students consider the use of red, yellow, and green in a traffic light. Finally, they brainstorm other everyday situations where patterns are used to transfer information.”

How do patterns transfer information in everyday situations? One example is a traffic light.

Ms. Sneed smiled. “I really want to use standards-based teaching. However, I thought this standard would be impossible,” she said. “Instead, it’s as easy as pie!”

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