Cryptology – Mansi Airen

Today we started a new unit: cryptology! This unit was a little tougher for the kids to understand but once they did, they loved making their own ciphers!

We first went over what it meant to encrypt and decrypt a cipher as well as some history of cryptology and how it was initially created by Julius Caesar and it was used to win World War II.

We also went over some terms often used in cryptology such as “plaintext” and “ciphertext”. I wanted to emphasize how the plain text should be written in lowercase letters to avoid confusion when recording messages. Today, we went over Caesar’s cipher! Before our class, I had asked the children to create their own caesar wheel using this template so that their wheels would have the lowercase plaintext and the uppercase ciphertext. Those who didn’t get a chance to print out the template used this website for our in-class activities.

Sejal and I explained how this cipher basically shifts in the alphabet. This was one of the best ciphers to teach to a group of young children since it wasn’t too complicated and didn’t involve any math. We tried encrypting and decrypting examples together, and then they tried it on their own.

I have to say, I was really impressed at how well they were able to encrypt and decrypt their own ciphers. Their homework was to print out the template if they hadn’t done so already and create an encrypted poster for healthcare workers! Their posters had the original message, the encrypted message, and shift. They also had to create a scytale cipher which is a cipher where you wrap a piece of paper around a tube or bottle, write your message across the paper, and cut the paper so that each letter was separated into strips. Their fun, optional homework was to watch Disney Pixar’s Zootopia and an episode of iSpy for the theme of finding things with clues!

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