Thought bubble with binary numbers over white background

Mini-lesson: Converting Decimal to Binary

You know how they say it’s the little things in life? That’s true in so many ways, and not just in the sweet-little-gifts kind of positive ways. The little things can also be annoying or harmful — a little pebble in your shoe can make you extremely uncomfortable; a little misunderstanding can end a friendship or start a war.

When you’re learning electronics and robotics, it’s extremely important to understand and properly execute the little things that make up the basics: the math, computer science, programming, and mechanics that make up the underpinnings of the things you will need to make second nature over time. Getting these little things wrong, or failing to really understand their workings, can be a pebble in your shoe, an impediment to efficient, effective work, and can sabotage your robot before it’s built.

If you teach these subjects, or if you’re a hobbyist, programmer, engineer, etc., it’s good to keep the basics in mind, even though you already know them by heart and rarely think about them in day-to-day life.

All of this is by way of an introduction to our new feature: the mini-lesson. In these mini-lessons, we will take 10 or 15 minutes apiece to deal with some of the basics you will need to know inside-out before you’re done. These are things that are sometimes glossed over in a classroom: the workings of the number system, for instance, or the details of scientific notation. Others will be things you learned a long time ago but haven’t needed to use in a while, such as the names of the metric measurements.

We hope these will be useful to both students and teachers. The first one will be a primer on converting decimal numbers to binary, and we’re going to add a new one every week or two.

Please let us know which kinds of things we can show you in future mini-lessons. Is there something you don’t quite understand, but you think it’s too little a thing to mention in class? Ask us! We’ll address it in a future mini-lesson.

(Note: I’ve captioned the video in English; if anyone would like to caption it in other languages for us, we’d be grateful!)