Cryptography, Spies, and Espionage
In this exciting week of puzzling intrigue, our students explored the multiple aspects of espionage – examining the conflicts, trade-offs, adventures, intrigue, sense of mission, gadgets, tradecraft, and cryptography that all are part of the life of a spy. We solved multiple codes, including cyphers, frequency codes, and cryptograms and engaged with memory challenges and mind game strategies. The students also researched and wrote about the Cold War-era case of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, a couple who was convicted and executed for being spies passing along atomic bomb plans to the Soviet Union. The students wrote thoughtful analyses in their defense/prosecution or to argue that the sentence should have been different for one or both. On Monday, we met over Zoom with Matti Friedman, an Israeli author, who shared about his book Spies of No Country and connected his findings with current circumstances in Israeli society and intelligence. On Tuesday, at the Spy Museum, we assumed cover identities and solved puzzles and codes as we also learned about the role espionage has played in national and global events and interactions. On Wednesday, we applied our problem-solving and collaboration skills in a variety of “escape room” challenges. On Thursday we worked on the second of two cryptology challenges that Expert Cryptologist Wendy Herndon designed just for our group- and we went out to Rock Creek Park to apply our observation skills “out in the field.” It was wonderful to see the students engaging with challenging problems with grit and out-of-the-box thinking, to watch them connect with peers from within their own grade and across the grades, and to witness the joy and enthusiasm that they brought to this week of experiential learning.