Part of Lesson Plan: B5- Life Without Thumbs- Counting like Computers (by eights)
Activity Overview / Details
Ask the students this question: “What would it be like if you had no thumbs?”
Use duct tape to tape their thumbs to their hands so they can only use their fingers. Pass out common household objects and challenge students to try doing everyday tasks without their thumbs like taking off a screw-on top from a bottle or paperclip some papers together. Ask them to brainstorm and come up with things that they think would be the most difficult to do without thumbs. If possible, have them try some of them. You could even have a competition!
Show the video “Thumbless” where some students accepted the challenge to go a day with their thumbs disabled. If you wish to go a little further, show the video of “Charity”, a girl who was born without thumbs and with her fingers deformed. You can then show the video “Charity's Hands” which shows the difficulty the handicapped can have using a computer. This would be a good segue into a discussion of the need for accessibility options in an operating system.
If you wish to make a historical connection, talk about how a common method in ancient times to humiliate a defeated opponent would be to cut off their thumbs and sometimes their big toes. This is referred to in the Bible in the book of Judges 1:6-7. Outside of the obvious pain, why would this be a humiliation?
There is also a good place here for a biological connection if you have time. The existence of the opposable thumb is a major turning point in biology as it allows the use of tools.
(Note: if this hook seems a little too graphic or you feel it distracts from the main point of the lesson, you can make the same point by using Mickey Mouse as an example. Mickey Mouse, as many of the older cartoons, had only three fingers due to the animators wanting to make their jobs simpler with fewer fingers to draw. Therefore, cartoon characters probably count in octal!)
(Another historical connection would be to mention that some Native American tribes, like the Yuki from the Mendocino area, counted in octal. They counted using the spaces between the fingers rather than counting the fingers themselves.)