Coded Bracelets Teach Computer Science

HellersteinNYU-Poly Professor Lisa Hellerstein, Computer Science and Engineering.  Prof. Hellerstein is a member of the Cybersecurity for Young Women project, a two-week course in coding and computer science, part of Professor Nasir Memon‘s broader CSAW program and competition.

Here, Prof. Hellerstein describes an innovative, hands-on lesson that kicked off the program.

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One of the most basic concepts in computer science is that the same information can be stored in many different ways.  Computers often store text documents using an encoding system called ASCII. For example in ASCII, the letter “a” is represented by the number 97.

There are also different ways of representing numbers. People who work in cybersecurity often have to work with numbers that are represented in hex (which is short for “hexadecimal,” or base 16).

BraceletAs an ice-breaker, the students made name bracelets for each other using beads.  But instead of spelling the names in English, they spelled them in ASCII hex.  For example, “a” is 97 in ASCII, and 97 is represented as 61 in hex, so 61 on a bracelet represents the letter “a.”

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