Morse Code Messaging

David C. King
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Experiment/Lab Activity
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be "fully aligned," the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.



This activity introduces the students to sending and deciphering Morse Code. The children use flashlight signals rather than sounds (which is a plus when you have thirty children trying to send signals in one classroom) to compose and send a short message to their partner. Each child composes and sends one message. A worksheet with background information about Morse Code and a pictorial model of the code is provided.

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • Upper Elementary
Access Restrictions

Free access with user action - The right to view and/or download material without financial barriers but users are required to register or experience some other low-barrier to use.

Performance Expectations

4-PS4-3 Generate and compare multiple solutions that use patterns to transfer information.

Clarification Statement: Examples of solutions could include drums sending coded information through sound waves, using a grid of 1’s and 0’s representing black and white to send information about a picture, and using Morse code to send text.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This resource introduces children to Morse Code and using patterns to transfer energy, but it does not meet the full requirements of the standard because there is only one solution rather than multiple solutions. If the teacher were to extend the activity and have students design their own communication patterns (sound, light, or written), then the extended activity would satisfy the requirements of the standard.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource was not designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
If the teacher uses the suggestion to extend the activity by allowing the students to design their own code, then the activity would be a perfect fit for this practice because it will allow the students to come up with multiple solutions to the design problem. Teachers might consider addressing this performance expectation after exploring the concept of Energy. Students can be asked to put together what they know about different kinds of energy to develop a tool capable of transmitting Morse code through either light or sound.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
After students complete the light activity, the teacher can discuss that the light signals can be seen for a very long distance with no change to the signal, bringing in real life examples such as a light house. At that point, other types of signals can be introduced, such as cell phones and computers.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Reinforce the concept that the code is using patterns to communicate with others.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The addition of a student-created code would make this a Superior fit with the standard.

  • Instructional Supports: This activity is clear and on the proper level for the students. Having a key in front of the students will make the challenge of using and deciphering the code easier for the students.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The teacher can observe the students sending and decoding messages from their partner. If a pair of students seem to be struggling to decipher the Morse Code, it will be an obvious sign that they are having trouble with patterns.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: - none -