Binary & Cryptography
We use computer-based technology daily to communicate with others. We share information in the form of text, images, and sound with each other. We send text messages and emails. We share photos online and send faxes. We buy songs from our favorite artists and download them to our computers, or listen to the latest and greatest tunes on the music channel on TV. Students learned today just how computers do what they do: computers “read” and “write” using a system called binary code. Students explored the difference between base-10 numbers (our regular numerical system) and base-2 numbers (binary code) and how these unusual numbers can be used to encode messages! (Ask your student to show you how to write their name in binary!)
Students also explored the science of cryptography, the science of secret codes, as much of the information we exchange via computers is encrypted or protected in some way. Cryptography has existed for as long as people have been keeping secrets. The ancient Egyptians used secret codes 4,000 years ago! Students were introduced to a number of ciphers (secret codes) and were challenged to figure out how to crack the codes. We explored simple ciphers, transposition ciphers, and substitution ciphers, including the Pigpen Cipher, the Caesar Cipher (named after Julius Caesar), and the Jefferson wheel (a code-making device created by President Thomas Jefferson).
Students can create their own Caesar Wheel at home by following our attached DIY Caesar Wheel guide below! Caesar Wheel DIY