Cryptography for Kids

Interesting National Science Foundation award:

In the proposed “CryptoClub” afterschool program, middle-grade students will explore cryptography while applying mathematics to make and break secret codes. The playfulness and mystery of the subject will be engaging to students, and the afterschool environment will allow them to learn at their own pace. Some activities will involve moving around, for example following a trail of encrypted clues to find a hidden treasure, or running back and forth in a relay race, competing to be the first to gather and decrypt the parts of a secret message. Other activities will involve sitting more quietly and thinking deeply about patterns that might help break a code. On the other hand, in the proposed CryptoClub Online approach, the CryptoClub Website will provide additional opportunities for applying and learning cryptography in a playful way. It currently includes cipher tools for encrypting and decrypting, message and joke boards where users decrypt messages or submit their own encrypted messages, historical comics about cryptography, and adventure games that involve secret messages.

Posted on February 13, 2015 at 1:13 PM13 Comments


Anura February 13, 2015 1:38 PM

It’s good to get more people interested in cryptography, although I hope it doesn’t cause too many people to roll their own.

At one point I was going to run a twitter bot that encrypted pre-determined messages at regular intervals with a paper-and-pencil cipher in an attempt to get people to break it for a small reward in the hopes of attracting interest*. But then I got distracted on another project (which is unfinished today).

*Round one was intended to be a cipher that is breakable without knowing the internals or the plaintexts and would offer a $25 reward to the first person to break it (in bitcoin). Round two was supposed to be a much less weak cipher, but breakable if you knew the internals (which would be given) with no plaintext ($50 reward). Round three was intended to be even less weak (still given the internals), but would encrypt and retweet messages sent to it ($100 reward).

Gonzo February 13, 2015 1:40 PM


I remember teaching my kiddo Playfair and Vigenère when she was 10. She really enjoyed it, and if the calls I got from the school were any indication, it turned out handy for the kiddos to communicate with each other in secret.

Anura February 13, 2015 2:33 PM

@Andrew Wallace

He reminds me of those people who think that Hitler was bad, but then go on to support building highways, JUST LIKE HITLER DID!

Confused February 13, 2015 3:02 PM

How is his blog weird? He’s talking about a new educational program.

I don’t think it matters who the project is ultimately funded by as long as it fosters new talent / gets people interested at a young age.

Those “middle-grade students” can make their own decisions on who to work for in later life.

Swivel-eyed loon February 13, 2015 3:40 PM

“Those “middle-grade students” can make their own decisions on who to work for in later life.”

I know whom they won’t be working for.

bbbbbb February 13, 2015 4:43 PM


Mr Wallace hasn’t even bothered to find a good blog entry to shill in. And he’s probably getting paid for that with money derived from your taxes.

MikeA February 14, 2015 9:38 PM

Sounds like a good way for a kid to get on a list of those who
will, some four to eight years later, get a “plata o plomo”
(Silver or Lead”, “join us or die”) enquiry they can’t dodge.

fjjjjgh February 17, 2017 7:35 AM


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