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Key Stage 4

Codes and Ciphers

From Ancient Greece to the modern day people have been using increasingly complex codes and ciphers with the intention of communicating secretly and keeping information secure. Enigma was one such cipher. Students will enjoy the rare opportunity to use a genuine Enigma machine as well as encountering a range of historical codes and ciphers as they work together to decipher messages in order to solve a puzzle. This session includes an Enigma machine demonstration.

During this session students will:

Increase their knowledge of codes and ciphers and their uses throughout history.

Develop their understanding of the role that ciphers played during WW2, with specific reference to the Enigma machine and the wider operations of Bletchley Park.

Use and develop team working, problem solving and mathematical thinking skills, applying them to a practical codebreaking task.

Subject Focus: Maths, History, Computing

Interception to Intelligence: Battle of the Atlantic

It is 1941 and the Battle of the Atlantic is at its height. Numerous convoys of essential supplies are being sunk by German Wolf packs and Britain is close to surrender. In the role of codebreakers students will intercept, decipher and translate German Naval communications in order to plan a strategy to get the next convoy safely to Liverpool. This session includes an Enigma machine demonstration.

During this session students will:

Develop their knowledge and understanding of WWII events and the role of Bletchley Park in the Battle of the Atlantic.

Briefly describe the process of decryption at Bletchley Park, from when a message is first intercepted until the intelligence is used.

Apply team working, problem solving and strategic thinking skills to obtain and apply scenario based intelligence.

Subject Focus: History, Maths

Interception to Intelligence: D-Day

It is the early hours of 6th June 1944. Weather prevented Operation Overlord commencing in the early hours of June 5th so today is the best, and perhaps last, chance the Allies have of beginning the invasion of German-occupied Western Europe. Numerous deception plans have been put into place to fool the enemy and protect Allied troops. In the role of codebreakers students will intercept and decipher German communications in order to decide if the deception plans have been successful and whether it is safe to proceed with the invasion. This session includes an Enigma machine demonstration.

During this session students will:

Develop their knowledge and understanding of WW2 events and the role of Bletchley Park in the D-Day landings.

Briefly describe the process of decryption at Bletchley Park, from when a message is first intercepted until the intelligence is used.

Apply team working, problem solving and strategic thinking skills to obtain and apply scenario based intelligence.

Subject Focus: Maths, History

Cyber Security

Bletchley Park’s codebreakers exploited vulnerabilities and basic breaches of protocol in the use of Enigma to break encrypted messages. These types of techniques are still used in today’s connected world. Through challenges and an Enigma demonstration students will examine these techniques in more detail, evaluate their relevance to our modern day, online lives and consider any changes they may need to make to their online habits. This session includes an Enigma machine demonstration.

During this session students will:

Understand that human error and complacency is often the reason for cyber security breaches, as in WW2 codebreaking.

Identify threats from scenarios and understand protection strategies and techniques.

Use their discoveries to understand ways to keep personal information safe online.

Subject Focus: History, Computing, PHSE

Breaking Lorenz

Fiendishly difficult, the Lorenz cipher seemed impossible to break, but Bletchley Park Codebreaker John Tiltman’s inspired breakthrough paved the way for other codebreakers to unlock its secrets. His thought process is laid bare, and students will engage with a series of tasks of increasing complexity designed to give them a full understanding of Tiltman’s break.

This session assumes some basic understanding of the Lorenz cipher.

During this session students will:

Develop their knowledge and understanding of ciphers used in the past including those during WW2

Understand how a key logical step contributed to the breaking of a WW2 cipher, using ideas related to binary addition, the XOR operation and common language patterns

Work through a problem-solving procedure collaboratively based on real historical events

Subject Focus: Computing, History, Mathematics

Higher ability students?

For more able groups you may wish to consider some of our Key Stage 5 sessions.

Related Pages

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Book a Learning Visit

Prices and how to book a learning visit to Bletchley Park

Essential Information

Everything you need to know before you visit with your school

On-site FAQs

Frequently asked questions relating to learning visits

Sessions

Find out more about the different sessions we run on-site

Essential Information

Everything you need to know before you visit with your school

Book a Learning Visit

Prices and how to book a learning visit to Bletchley Park

On-site FAQs

Frequently asked questions relating to learning visits