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The Cryptoclub

To follow-up on last week's discussion of the recent deciphering of a coded message sent to Thomas Jefferson, should students learn about cryptology?

Janet Beissinger and Vera Pless, two UI-C professors, think so. In 2006, they co-authored The Cryptoclub, a story for middle school students that introduced them to mathematical concepts through the coding and decoding messages.

Now, with the support of a five-year, $2.5 million National Science Foundation grant, they will convert their story into an after-school curriculum available for use anywhere (via the national math literacy group, The Young People's Project.

The codes involve simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and factors, but the experience is presented in a critical thinking or problem solving context.

The code problems range from the simple shifts of alphabetic letters to substituting numbers for letters to complicated patterns based on exponents or modular division with remainders.

See the resource review and website review for this week for further information.

Source: Chicago Tribune, July 22, 2009