This set of activities introduces children to cryptography techniques, showing how the use of computers can make encryption quicker and more effective. Some notable examples of the use of encryption in history are mentioned, leading to the use of calculation machines for code-making and code-breaking.
A role-play based around solving a murder case then offers clues using a range of encryption techniques such as transposition, substitution and pigeon cyphers. By exploring the limitations of manual techniques students are then introduced to using spreadsheets for encrypting and decrypting longer messages – these allow cypher rules to be programmed and therefore executed more efficiently.
More advanced code-breaking techniques, such as looking for high-frequency letters in substitution cyphers, are later covered.
The resource includes a teacher guide and presentations. Also included are several ‘clue’ worksheets as well as the answers, and several prepared spreadsheet templates used for code-breaking challenges. A ‘suspects database’ is also provided, to be used in conjunction with the clues in finding the murderer.
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