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Morse Code Lesson for Kids: History, Alphabet & Facts

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  • 0:04 What is Morse Code?
  • 0:45 History of Morse Code
  • 2:08 Fun Facts About Morse Code
  • 3:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Mary Beth Mullikin

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

Do you know how to read or tap Morse code? Can you understand it? In this lesson, we are going to learn what Morse code is, how it came to be and some interesting facts about its usage.

What is Morse Code?

LOL! BFF! IDK! Think about how convenient it is to send a text message. With the typing of a few letters on a mobile device, you can send a message for someone else to read. Well, long before there were cell phones and text messages, there were telegraphs and Morse code.

Morse code is a communication system that represents the alphabet and numbers with a series of dots, dashes or a combination of both. The dots are the short sounds and are also known as dits. The dashes are the long sounds and are also known as dahs. Because you can also tap out the dots and dashes, Morse code can be both seen and heard.

History of Morse Code

Can you guess who created Morse code? His name was Samuel Morse (go figure) and he created the code in the 1830s in response to the invention of the telegraph, which he also created. The telegraph was a machine that sent and received messages by sending electric currents on a wire. By using a series of electrical pulses, short bursts of electric energy, the telegraph could then make marks on a piece of paper. But, those marks would not mean anything without a code - thus, Morse code was born.

Although originally the telegraph made marks on paper tape, which then had to be translated, telegraph operators became so good at just listening and understanding the code that the paper was quickly replaced with a receiver for listening.

By 1866, a telegraph line was placed from Europe to the United States in order to be able to send Morse code messages across the Atlantic Ocean. Morse code became a key form of communication in the military. Remember that Morse code can be heard OR seen? Sometimes, soldiers would send the code visually by moving a spotlight up and down to represent the different letters.

Morse code isn't used very often today. After all, it does take quite a long time to spell out words. However, it is still used sometimes by radio operators, the military and even the Boy Scouts.

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