Cracking Code: An Unplugged Engagement

As you may know, cryptography is the science of keeping information secure and encryption systems are an essential element of today’s digital communication. As year 4 children’s inquiry was under the big idea of signs and symbols, the opportunity to introduce them to cryptography had to be seized.

The children were introduced to Morse code and semaphore early encryption systems; they were divided in groups and spent some time encrypting and decrypting messages using torch lights and flags.

Yahya using Morse code
Semaphore reference sheet

Later on, we worked on Caesar cipher- a cipher in which the letters of the alphabet get shifted for a specific number of places; pairs of children developed their ciphers and challenged one another to crack codes they created using the cipher.

Mahmoud shifting the alphabet by 1 place
Caesar pair

We ended the unit by sitting again buddy-to-buddy to produce and name original strong ciphers. The children were very creative in that process and used numbers and symbols in addition to letters to make up there ciphers. Their codes were impossible to crack!

An original cryptography system by Rexford and Safa

For unit reflection, we discussed the different cryptography systems we worked on and the children were able to point out the strengths and weaknesses of each. The also filled self-assessment forms.


Let us know what you think!

Yours Truly,
Maya H. Hamedi

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