In If: Ball, Then: Catch we learned how good Sparky was at keeping track of the number of cats he had seen. Have you ever wondered how much a computer can remember?
In the binary paper chain activity we learned how to translate letters into binary, the language of computers. We talked about how one letter can be represented as eight ones and zeros, which make up a byte.
Computers can remember a lot of information. To understand how much information, let's go on a scavenger hunt! What you will need:
- Scavenger hunt printout
- Pencil or pen
First, let's imagine that one byte of information is the size of a single grain of rice:
The words written in the first six pages of If: Ball, Then: Catch can be stored in about one kilobyte (kB) of memory. If one byte is the size of a single grain of rice, then one kilobyte is about the size of a ping pong ball:
About 30 seconds of music can be stored in one megabyte (MB) of memory. If one byte is the size of a single grain of rice, then one megabyte is about the size of a medium trash can:
About five minutes of video can be stored in one gigabyte (GB) of memory. If one byte is the size of a single grain of rice, then one gigabyte is about the size of a school bus:
Personal computers can store about one terabyte (TB) of memory. If one byte is the size of a single grain of rice, then one terabyte is about the size of the CN tower:
Like I said before - computers can remember a lot of information! It's a good thing that each byte takes up much less space than a grain of rice.
Now that you understand a bit about the different sizes of computer memory, grab your scavenger hunt printout and see how many items you can find! Don't worry if you can't find everything; some are pretty tricky. If you are like me and don't happen to live in Toronto, you can visit the CN tower virtually by checking out the extremely exciting live video stream of the tower and from the top of the tower!
Good luck on your scavenger hunt!
This activity is based on the book If: Ball, Then: Catch, available here!