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Take on the role of codebreaker as you uncover secret messages in Codebreak, the brand new web app from the Open University created for Maths Week Scotland.
Codebreak features three levels, each increasing in difficulty level. The first level involves cracking the Pigpen cipher. Pigpen ciphers are simple substitution ciphers where each letter is replaced with a letter, picture or symbol. The second level is a Caesar cipher where letters have been substituted for another letter in the alphabet by shifting the alphabet along by a certain number of places. The final level requires frequency analysis. Codebreakers use their knowledge of the English language to identify most common letters and pairs of letters to find the message.
The app is designed for ages 13 and up, however younger codebreakers could tackle it with support and hints. There are more than 20 different messages so this can be played again and again!
For anyone interested in finding out more about the history of codebreaking the Open University has free resources including The Code Breakers of Bletchley Park, the story of Colossus (the world’s first programmable computer, made at Bletchley Park), and The Bletchley Park Connection.
Take a look at a real Enigma Machine at the National Musuem of Scotland or see the inner workings online. If you are visiting National Museum of Scotland try this coded trail in which the team have hidden the names of six exhibits.
The Codebreak app was funded by the Maths Week Scotland Large Grants Fund. Other organisations which received funding were Dynamic Earth, Maths Inside, University of Edinburgh, Dumfries and Galloway Council, SSERC and Aberdeen Science Centre.
Funding opportunities for Maths Week Scotland will be announced in February 2022. Follow @MathsWeekScot on Twitter to hear first or email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the mailing list.