Unit1

Unit 1 - Digital Information

Unit Overview

Students explore the way computers store and represent complex information like numbers, text, images, and sound. The unit begins with students investigating what it means to represent information, and challenges students to design their own representation systems. Students then learn the ideas behind real-world systems used to represent complex information. Later lessons focus on the challenges that arise from digitizing information, such as the need to compress it, or questions of intellectual property. The unit project emphasizes the profound impact digital information has on modern life.

Teaching Tip

Modifications for Virtual and Socially-Distanced Classrooms

Are you teaching in a virtual setting or in a socially-distanced classroom? Check out this document for ideas and resources to help you tailor common practices like Think Pair Share or Peer Feedback to your learning environment.

For lesson-specific modifications, check out the Lesson Modifications section within Lesson Plans.

Learn more about how to use these resources here.

Unit Philosophy and Pedagogy

  • Establishing a Strong Classroom Culture: This unit is designed to be hands-on, collaborative, and exploratory. A major focus of the unit is building a positive classroom culture in which students work together, explore problems, and communicate about their thinking. Most lessons either feature physical manipulatives or a digital widget, and the bulk of lesson time should be spent with students exploring these tools together to develop an understanding of the concepts they highlight. The course intentionally does not start with programming since, in many classrooms, some students have experience with programming and others do not. Choosing to begin with digital information and the internet lets you build community in the room while exploring a topic that is likely to be accessible to all students. The supportive and inclusive classroom environment built in this unit should help set a positive tone that can be carried through the school year.

  • Empowering "Deciders": An important goal of the course is not merely to teach students technical knowledge, but to put those skills to work in meaningful ways. This unit builds towards the unit project, which provides an opportunity for students to be "deciders" about the impacts of computing on modern life. Other units will emphasize empowering units as "creators."

Major Assessment and Projects

The unit project asks students to consider and debate issues that arise in modern society due to the digitizing of information. Students will analyze an article that addresses the intersection of digitizing information and current events. They will evaluate what data is being digitized and evaluate the benefits and harms caused by making this information digital. Students will also complete an end-of-unit assessment aligned with CS Principles framework objectives covered in this unit.

AP Connections

This unit and its associated project help build towards the enduring understandings listed below. For a detailed mapping of units to Learning Objectives and EKs, please see the "Standards" page for this unit.

  • DAT-1: The way a computer represents data internally is different from the way the data is interpreted and displayed for the user. Programs are used to translate data into a representation more easily understood by people.
  • IOC-1: while computing innovations are typically designed to achieve a specific purpose, they may have unintended consequences

This unit includes content from the following topics from the AP CS Principles Framework. For more detailed information on topic coverage in the course review Code.org CSP Topic Coverage.

  • 2.1 Binary Numbers
  • 2.2 Data Compression
  • 5.5 Legal and Ethical Concerns.

Week 1

Lesson 1: Welcome to CSP

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Tech Setup
  • Warm-Up (15 mins)
  • Activity (20 mins)
  • Wrap-up (10 min)

Welcome to Computer Science Principles! Groups make a “rapid” prototype of an innovative idea and share it. Students watch a brief video about computing innovations.

Teacher Links: Presentation | | Students Links: Activity Guide | Video | Rubric

Lesson 2: Representing Information

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Warm Up (5 mins)
  • Activity (35 mins)
  • Wrap Up (5 mins)

Design a device for sending information across the room using common household supplies.

Teacher Links: Presentation

Lesson 3: Circle Square Patterns

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Warm Up (5 mins)
  • Activity (35 mins)
  • Wrap Up (5 mins)

Develop a system for creating and ordering patterns of shapes.

Teacher Links: Presentation Students Links: Activity Guide | Resource

Lesson 4: Binary Numbers

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Warm Up (5 mins)
  • Activity (35 mins)
  • Wrap Up (5 mins)

In this lesson, students will practice representing numbers in binary (base 2), transitioning from the circle-square representations they made in the last lesson. Students will create and use a "Flippy Do", a manipulative which helps students convert between binary (base 2) and decimal (base 10) numbers. They will practice converting numbers and explore the concept of place value in the context of binary numbers.

Teacher Links: Presentation | Teacher Guide Students Links: Template | Activity Guide

Lesson 5: Overflow and Rounding

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Warm Up (5 mins)
  • Activity (35 mins)
  • Wrap Up (5 mins)

Explore the limitations or representing numbers with bits.

Teacher Links: Presentation Students Links: Template

Week 2

Lesson 6: Representing Text

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Warm Up (5 mins)
  • Activity (35 mins)
  • Wrap Up (5 mins)

Develop a system for representing text using bits based on what you already know about representing numbers.

Teacher Links: Presentation Students Links:

Lesson 7: Black and White Images

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Warm Up (5 mins)
  • Activity (35 mins)
  • Wrap Up (5 mins)

Learn how computers represent black and white images using bits.

Teacher Links: Presentation Students Links: Video | Activity Guide

Lesson 8: Color Images

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Warm Up (5 mins)
  • Activity (35 mins)
  • Wrap Up (5 mins)

Learn how computers represent color images using bits.

Teacher Links: Presentation Students Links: Video

Lesson 9: Lossless Compression

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Warm Up (5 mins)
  • Activity (35 mins)
  • Wrap Up (5 mins)

Learn how computers can decrease the number of bits used to represent a piece of information.

Teacher Links: Presentation Students Links: Video

Lesson 10: Lossy Compression

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Warm Up (5 mins)
  • Activity (30 mins)
  • Wrap Up (10 mins)

Learn how information is represented using fewer bits when it's OK for some of the information or details to be lost.

Teacher Links: Presentation

Week 3

Lesson 11: Intellectual Property

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Warm Up (5 mins)
  • Activity (30 mins)
  • Wrap Up (10 mins)

Learn about how people can own digital information and the ways they can share access to their creative digital works.

Teacher Links: Presentation Students Links: Article

Lesson 12: Project - Digital Information Dilemmas Part 1

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Warm Up (5 mins)
  • Activity (35 mins)
  • Wrap Up (5 mins)

Read about a current event or societal challenge created by the digitization of information.

Teacher Links: Presentation Students Links: Article | Article | Article

Lesson 13: Project - Digital Information Dilemmas Part 2

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Warm Up (5 mins)
  • Activity (35 mins)
  • Wrap Up (5 mins)

Share the results of your reading and discuss with classmates the overall impacts of the digitization of information.

Teacher Links: Presentation Students Links: Rubric

Lesson 14: Assessment Day

  • Lesson Modifications
  • Assessment (25 mins)
  • Assessment Review (20 mins)

Assessment day to conclude the unit.

Teacher Links: Presentation