20 May 2017Lady Eleanor Holles Junior School

Code Breaking at LEH Junior School

Code breaking expert, James Grime, visited LEH Junior School to talk to UII and LII about codes and code breaking. James explained that he was a mathematician and had always been fascinated by codes.

First, James introduced Lower Two and Upper Two to the history of codes and relayed interesting historical tales. I was shocked to hear how the cracking of Mary Queen of Scots’ code led to her being beheaded and was fascinated to learn how the Spartans tattooed codes on slave's’ shaved heads. They sent the slaves as messengers once their hair had grown back and the receiver had to re-shave the slave’s head to read the message. Poor slaves! We also learnt about codes in Ancient Greece.

Next we discovered some amazing facts about the Enigma Machine and the history of Bletchley Park in World War Two. I was particularly interested to learn about the brilliant mathematician and computer scientist, Alan Turing, and his invention of The Bombe at Bletchley Park or Station X. This machine led to the breaking of the apparently unbreakable Enigma code, used by the German Army in World War Two and changed the course of history forever.

Finally we had a live demonstration of an original Enigma Machine which was found on a battlefield after WW2 had ceased. It was amazing to discover how the receiver of the code could unravel it using an enigma machine with the same settings and an instruction manual.

Throughout the day, code breaking workshops were held for each class and it was really fun trying to crack the different codes and discover the people whom the codes related to. 

It was brilliant hearing about the history and mathematics of codes and code breaking from such an expert and I felt honoured to be able to attend this presentation. I would like to say a huge thank you to the teachers who organised this fabulous event and to James Grime for his amazing code breaking skills.

Written by Catherine (UIID)