Extra Curricular

Bletchley Park Codebreaking for Maths G.O.T. Students

Bletchley Park Codebreaking  for Maths G.O.T. Students
26th Jan 2024
Written by ASM

Those familiar with military history recognise the significance of Bletchley Park, a  country estate pivotal to the British codebreaking efforts in World War II and the birth of modern computing. Alan Turing and other key figures in the Ultra intelligence project decoded encrypted enemy messages, notably those from the German Enigma and Tunny machines. Historians estimate that the Codebreakers' contributions shortened the war by up to two years, potentially saving numerous lives.

Having worked with some of the most brilliant mathematics geniuses during the war, Bletchley Park recognises the inspiring lessons it can share with young mathematicians in schools today,.As a consequence they run two separate outreach programmes –namely Enigma Outreach and Cyber Outreach – that are tailor-made to meet the needs and interests of different year groups and abilities. Both types of outreach visits include a virtual tour of Bletchley Park, and the course itself is led by a special Outreach facilitator. 

Last week, our Year 9 pupils, Key Stage 3 & 4 G.O.T (Gifted, Outstanding and Talented) learners and Sixth Form A-Level Maths students all got the chance to take part in either the Enigma or Cipher One workshop, courtesy of a special paid-for visit from Bletchley Park.

During the action-packed day, students accessing the Enigma workshop got the opportunity to look at and learn more about codes and ciphers; the Briefcase Challenge; Breaking Lorenz; and the Story of Enigma. Students accessed the Cyber Workshop which included a closer look at connected devices; a safecracking challenge; past, present and future encryption; and data protection. They got the opportunity to receive practical, up-to-date and age-appropriate cyber security skills, and learn to think critically about the ethics of modern computing as well as to consider, perhaps, a career in Information Security.

One G.O.T student commented: “It was fascinating to learn more about the incredible work that went on at Bletchley Park during World War II. However, it also got me thinking about cyber security today, and whether this could provide an interesting and fulfilling career for someone like me  - who loves maths! - in the future.”