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This week, UIV (Year 9) enjoyed taking part in two very different activities: a codebreaking session and drawing Islamic Art.

For the codebreaking session they looked at a coded message as a group and discussed how they might try to break it. After some discussion, they realised that certain letters occurred more frequently, and this introduced them to the idea of frequency analysis. Once they knew that the most common letter was 'E', they were off!

They made Caesar wheels to help them decode a Caesar Shift and discovered that the first message was an extract from the first chapter from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone! After this, they moved to a Computing activity where they were using a Python program to try to crack new coded messages more efficiently. They discovered that cracking a Caesar Shift was now trivial, but were stumped by Text 4. This turned out to be a 'substitution cipher', but they now had the program to crack that too! Through some hard work they discovered that the first key grid featured the word 'Hogwarts'. All of the students engaged really well with the codebreaking on the computers and saw just how helpful they are to decrypting messages. At the end of the session they were introduced to a 'block cipher', which was much harder to crack but very interesting!

In the Islamic Art session they learnt how to create vibrant and elegant geometric artwork inspired by the impressive designs often seen in traditional Islamic architecture. This gave students a deep insight into how the combinations of various shapes can form intricate patterns.

These were two fabulous activities to engage our UIV girls this Donaldson Week!