Latimer Arts College students investigated the mysteries of international code-breaking with hands-on access to one of the world’s few remaining Enigma machines, during a visit by Bletchley Park Trust to the School in Kettering.
Enigma machines were used by the Nazis to generate coded messages during the Second World War which proved almost impossible to break. Regularly deciphered by the code-breakers at Bletchley Park near Milton Keynes, the cracking of these ciphers proved critical to Allied intelligence War efforts.
The visit, last Friday, took place as part of Bletchley Park Trust’s cross-curriculum Enigma Outreach programme, and featured several learning sessions throughout the day for Latimer and visiting primary school children led by Bletchley Education Officer, Tom Briggs.
Tom said: “Bringing the Enigma machine into schools to inspire children offers an exciting way to learn about maths and technology. The students have been very interested in having this piece of history in front of them, and finding out more about its importance and key place in history.
“Unlike today’s electronic devices the Enigma machine allows you to see what it’s doing, and how key mathematical processes can be put into practice. We’ve been looking at the effectiveness of a cypher and the different ways you can set it up.”
Siobhan Hearne, college principal, said: “One of things we do well at The Latimer Arts College is to bring learning to life. Seeing the Enigma machine in action makes an incredible difference to students by getting them out of their classrooms to learning about maths and history in a new way.”
Latimer Arts College Year 7 students also had plenty to say about how the visit had impacted them.
Alex Barton said: “We found out how the Enigma machine was first used in banking and I really enjoyed cracking the codes. We spelt ‘Hello’ and got random letters back, then figured out how to translate these.”
Student Josh Freeman added: “We got to see the machine and how it worked. I found out more about maths and history, and it made me want to find out more about code-breaking.”
Molly Small said: “It was really good learning about history and maths together. I learnt about what the Germans did to try and trick the English, but we were really clever and figured it out.”
Beth Loveridge said: “I really like history and knew a bit about the Enigma machine from having visited Bletchley Park before. It was really hard to break the codes at the start of the lesson, but we were picking it up by the end.”