Ciphers and Codes – Vol. II

Code and Ciphers and very interesting topics to discuss in a Computer Science.  There are many ciphers that can be used as Computer Science assignments.  I use Ciphers and Codes as a curricular thread throughout my AP A CS class to provide students with relevant reasons to learn more about Computer Science.   Ciphers and Codes have been around for a very long time and can be seen throughout history.

A very good book about Ciphers and Codes is “The Code Book” by Simon Singh.  Mike Scott, UT CS faculty member, discussed this book at the 2010 First Bytes Camp for CS Teachers.

I made an earlier post called Ciphers and Codes – Vol. I and provided some slides, a lab, and a lesson plan.  I include in the lesson plan a reference to a National Treasure special edition DVD that has a short video about Codes that has commentary by  Simon Singh.  It is a very good video to show students as it has some great cipher information although it can be a bit dull in a spot or two.

Timing out the cipher lessons in your class to correspond with the Social Studies classes is a great idea.  For example, find out when they are going to talk about the Zimmerman Telegram in U.S. History and teach a related Cipher lesson at the same time.  Everybody wins!

Cross-curricular projects work great to show students what they can do with Computer Skills and to provide relevance for why they need the skills.  These projects also provide a nice context for teaching Computer Science concepts.  Students tend to get a bit more excited about what they are learning if they realize what they will eventually do with it.