TOpic 8 secret messages
English National Curriculum:
Key Stage 2
Tooltip content
Use logical reasoning to predict the behaviour of simple programs.
learning objectives
Tooltip content
to have a basic understanding of Morse code and to understand why it is needed.
success criteria
  • I can recognise a scenario where a code or secret message is used.
  • I can understand what Morse code is.
  • I can perform encoding and decoding using mORSE CODE.
top tips
  • The Morse code encodes text characters as sequences of two different signal lengths called dots and dashes or dits and dahs.
  • Morse code is named after Samuel F.B. morse, an inventor who helped with the development of telegraph technology.
Common misconceptions

Morse Code

Morse code is an alphabet or code in which letters are represented by combinations of long or short light or sound signals. It is used both as code and for communication without the use of actual characters.

It is used both as code and for communication without the use of actual characters.

The example above reads ‘CODE’.

Morse code systems use a binary input method that represents characters and commands a series of dats and dashes. For example, a dot followed by a dash indicates the letter a, a dash followed by three dots represents b, etc. If a single switch is used for entering the code, a dash is differentiated from a dot by holding the switch closed for a longer period of time. In two-switch Morse code, one switch is used for entering dots while the other is used for dashed.

Morse code has a number of advantages over other alternate computer access strategies. It is usually faster, requires less fine motor control and is less likely to produce fatigue than other methods. Perhaps its most important advantage is its ability to become a sub-cognitive process. After using the code for a period of time, the Morse code user no longer thinks about the code they’re entering. This is the same process as is used by touch typists and it has a significant impact on speed, accuracy and the quality of the work being produced. This was specially prevalent during World War 1 where messages relays became almost an automatic process.

Morse Code is used here to show how data can be represented in many different forms and languages. These forms can be changed and distilled into core elements that all programming languages use.