Student Assignment Page
for the
History and Analysis of Cryptography Unit
Each layer in a system builds upon previous layers

Topic: The history of cryptography and its current applications in our society.

Assignment:  Your teacher will divide you into small groups.   You will research and investigate to find more examples to support the meaning of the concept, Each layer in a system builds upon previous layers.   Do some Internet searches on "cryptography", "Enigma Project", "codebreakers", "cryptanalysis", "Bletchley Park", and some of the other topics and questions listed below [or choose your own topic with your teacher's guidance and approval].  Discuss your findings with your group, and begin to decide on the type of code you will write when you create your coded message. Over the next week, students will construct their codes, working with their partners; then trade messages with another group designated by your teacher [after depositing a copy of the message and the code with your teacher, of course].  After receiving the other group's code, you should then try to break it.

Following an appropriate length of time [check with your teacher to see how long you will have], groups will share their results and explain their codes to the class.  When a group feels they have broken another’s code, they will reveal the answer to the whole class, showing the steps they took to break the code.   The group who created the code would clarify any misconceptions or problems with the solution. As the students present their findings, there should be open discussion to verify how the method they used worked or didn’t work.

• Groups could create webpages, and post their code examples and solutions to the school's website to record the project as an example of the work you do in class.
• Choose an especially interesting topic you discovered during your research, and present it to the class in some manner that you pre-arrange with your teacher.

Possible Questions Relating to Cryptography:

• What if you had to deliver a message to someone, and the secrecy of the contents would guarantee your life or your livelihood or your property?  How would you make sure only the appropriate person read your note?
• What value can cryptography have for the average person?
• Is there such a thing as an unbreakable code?
• Why won’t companies like Netscape or Microsoft release copies of programs like Communicator and Internet Explorer with strong encryption codes outside of the United States?
• Do governments have the right to determine what citizens can keep private?
• ...what do you think is the most important Internet privacy issue today?  Ask your teacher if you can research it.

Possible Topics for Exploration:

• cryptanalysis
• cryptography
• Enigma Machine
• Bletchley Park
• Alan Turing
• PGP encryption
• symmetric and asymmetric algorithms
• The Voynich Manuscript
• The Beale Papers
• The Bacon/Shakespeare Ciphers
• The Caesar Cipher
• Ars Steganographica
• Navaho Code Talkers

Possible Resources: