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Curriculum: Maths - Breaking Codes with an Enigma Machine


Breaking Codes with an Enigma Machine

Added 4 months ago

by Ashley Devlin and Vicki Heyward – Year 8

Did you know that people work for MI5 deciphering secret messages from enemies? Some Richard Lander School gifted mathematicians had the amazing chance to go to St Ives School for a Code Breaking talk and we were lucky enough to see a real Enigma machine that used to be used by the Germans, during World War 2, to send coded messages which the allies couldn't understand, or so they thought…  The Enigma machine worked by the operator pressing the letter needed and then a light would flash at the top showing the letter it would be changed to. This was completely random, so unless you had a machine to work out the code for you, you never would be able to crack and decipher it.

We also heard all about Bletchley Park and how a man named Alan Turing invented a machine that was able to decode German messages which was extremely hard to do! Unfortunately after the war everything at Bletchley was burnt so that nobody could use or see the work done there, so it could remain a secret forever and even now only some people own up to the fact they worked at Bletchley Park. We were very grateful for hearing all about this exciting secret world, especially seeing a real, working Enigma machine.  

Richard Lander School