The Erudite Platypus
Middle Schoolers, the Bible, and Secret Codes-not your usual combination!
Updated: Apr 15, 2022
My school offers students who do not need remedial mathematics, reading, or ESL support, an opportunity to select a course of their choosing. The courses are created by the teachers and we have free reign over what we choose to offer. Among the offerings at my school, we have sewing, knitting, film critics, Current Events, Book Club, and so on. I opted to teach a course in crytology. The class is only 35 minutes long, so classes need to be engaging and fun in a short amount of time. My goal for the class is to let the kids have fun and get a taste of this complex and difficult subject.
In my adventure to create a cryptology course I began my research with the older ciphers as I thought they might be easier for the students to understand. One of the oldest that I found is the Atbash cipher. Simplistically, it is merely reversing the letters, i.e. A=Z, B=Y, etc.
The code is simple enough to allow the students to have success with their first "toe dip" into ciphers and codes. Success is always a key ingredient to create engagement and curiosity for more difficult tasks. The students really enjoyed this activity and loved that history behind this cipher. The Atbash cipher is originally used with the Hebrew alphabet. The cipher was used in several passages in the Book of Jeremiah hide what the author was actually talking about in the message.
I used the YouTube video "How to Decode A Message with An ATBASH Cipher [Code Cracking 101]. This video allowed the students to get an understanding of how to decode using a cipher wheel and to decode a simple message. The students then encrypted and decrypted messages for the rest of the period.
#cryptology #codebreaking #middleschool #computerscience
#atbash #computerscience #CS #cryptology #code #cipher #decoding #bible