Young code­break­ers en­joy maths chal­lenge

Wartime ma­chine gives pupils an in­sight into to­day’s tech­no­log­i­cal de­mands

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - NEWS - GRAHAM BROWN

Moni­fi­eth High School young­sters cracked the se­cret to a fas­ci­nat­ing school day when they got their hands on a wartime Enigma code ma­chine.

The leg­endary gizmo is tour­ing An­gus schools as part of Maths Week Scot­land, hav­ing been brought north from the Bletch­ley Park intelligence unit in Buck­ing­hamshire, which was home to the fa­mous code break­ers of the Sec­ond World War.

Bletch­ley Park ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cer Thomas Briggs talked Moni­fi­eth pupils through the tech­nol­ogy be­hind the crack­ing of the Enigma’s code, which played a cru­cial role in the out­come of the war, and ran prac­ti­cal code­break­ing work­shops with some of the en­thu­si­as­tic young­sters.

Sci­ence Min­is­ter Richard Lochhead also vis­ited the school as part of the event, which fol­lowed a visit to Arbroath High by Maths Week Scot­land co­or­di­na­tor Katie Old­field to see for her­self the ac­tiv­i­ties and learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences be­ing un­der­taken by young­sters there.

A project spokesman said: “Bletch­ley Park brings to­gether the dra­matic

Bletch­ley Park brings to­gether the dra­matic his­tory of the 20th Cen­tury with the chal­lenges we face in the 21st Cen­tury in our rapidly chang­ing so­ci­ety

his­tory of the 20th Cen­tury with the chal­lenges we face in the 21st Cen­tury in our rapidly chang­ing and tech­no­log­i­cally com­plex so­ci­ety.

“Maths and code­break­ing are stim­u­lat­ing and in­no­va­tive ways to en­gage all ages in the log­i­cal and com­pu­ta­tional think­ing process that un­der­pins math­e­mat­ics.

“It also en­cour­ages peo­ple to solve prob­lems by ap­ply­ing their math­e­mat­ics to a va­ri­ety of rou­tine and non-rou­tine prob­lems with in­creas­ing so­phis­ti­ca­tion, in­clud­ing break­ing down prob­lems into a se­ries of sim­pler steps and per­se­ver­ing in seek­ing so­lu­tions.”

The ac­tiv­ity has been funded by the Ed­in­burgh Math­e­mat­i­cal So­ci­ety and the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment cur­ricu­lum unit, with the Bletch­ley Park ed­u­ca­tion team due to visit all An­gus sec­on­daries dur­ing the week to ex­plore maths and code­break­ing.

An An­gus Coun­cil spokesman added: “It has also been sup­ported by our An­gus ed­u­ca­tion team and learn­ing sup­port of­fi­cer for nu­mer­acy, which is part of the An­gus Vir­tual School im­prove­ment pro­gramme.”

Schools across Courier Coun­try are tak­ing part in the spe­cial pro­gramme, with maths per­former An­drew Jef­frey vis­it­ing sec­ondary schools in Perth and Pit­lochry.

St An­drews Univer­sity is con­duct­ing lec­tures in lo­cal schools and will also be host­ing a view­ing of their col­lec­tion of an­cient math­e­mat­i­cal texts, combining it with a lec­ture on the ma­te­rial.

Mean­while, Deputy First Min­is­ter John Swin­ney is tweet­ing a daily maths chal­lenge, cre­ated for him by the Scot­tish Math­e­mat­i­cal Coun­cil.

Pic­ture: Mhairi Ed­wards.

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