Teaching Networks & the Internet in MS - Encryption (CSTA K-12 Identifier 2-NI-06)

Hello MS World!

This is the last week we’ll take a deep dive into the Networks and Internet concept from the CSTA K-12 Standards. The third standard is, "Apply multiple methods of encryption to model the secure transmission of information." (Identifier 2-NI-06)

The description is as follows:

Encryption can be as simple as letter substitution or as complicated as modern methods used to secure networks and the Internet. Students should encode and decode messages using a variety of encryption methods, and they should understand the different levels of complexity used to hide or secure information. For example, students could secure messages using methods such as Caesar ciphers or steganography (i.e., hiding messages inside a picture or other data). They can also model more complicated methods, such as public key encryption, through unplugged activities.

In my opinion, encryption is one of the “low hanging fruit” of CS topics. Many kids LOVE solving puzzles! Two years ago for CS Ed Week, my school focused on encryption from pre-K to 12th grade, and there were plenty of accessible activities, videos, and online widgets that made encryption accessible and engaging. There are so many out there! Below is just a SMALL sample of resources:




Do you have any activities, videos, widgets that you use to teach encryption? Please share!

Have a great rest of the week!




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Submitted by Linda Sweeting on Tue, 02/12/2019 - 15:16

I have not ventured into encryption in the past, however, after reading your post, I am ready to dive in with my coding club!  Thank you for sharing resources as well as sharing an idea that will engage all students, regardless of age.  I look forward to seeing what others decide to share- both ideas and resources.

:) Linda

Good idea!


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Submitted by Brenda Burmeister on Tue, 02/12/2019 - 16:31

This is an extensive list of  Cryptography activities! Thanks!

Most of what I have done in the classroom or during family open house night were extensions of the activities you listed.

I extended Khan Academy Crypto Challenge by making the scenario specific to the class's interest. I gave students "Spy badges" and made google slides for the story. It was like a single person escape room. I am not a fan of escape rooms because I think it privileges competition over collaboration and extroverts over introverts, but the scenario-based Crypto Challenge allowed for the fun of an escape room paradigm without the drama. 

I have also made enigma replicas using Pringles cans. Guess what my favorite junk food is? Students enjoy using them; I enjoy eating the prep materials. This activity is win/win for me. 

Also, I have grouped students, given them strips of paper with a code, and different width pipes. I challenge them to see which group can be the first to decipher the Scytale Cipher. They wrap the code strips around the various pipes until they can see a message. The scytale cipher challenge is a fun, active way to introduce cryptology.  I did have to practice saying it before I introduced it in class!

The University of Nebraska, Omaha has a free resource of computational thinking bins which features several types of cryptology.  These are fast to prepare and great on family night. 


Brenda B.

In reply to by Brenda Burmeister


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Submitted by Bobby Oommen on Sun, 02/17/2019 - 22:41

Thanks for the great suggestions Brenda! 


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Submitted by Nancy McGowan on Tue, 02/12/2019 - 19:52

Such a GREAT topic with a variety of multi-level resources .  I have used ciphers in conjunction with history studies and logical reasoning.  One of our favorites is the diagrammatic cipher (Exploratorium.edu).  

While I have not used the Code.org resource yet, I think it will provide an engaging format for introducing binary.


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Submitted by Nicole Reitz-Larsen on Fri, 02/15/2019 - 12:37

Wow I love all of the resources shared and ideas.

I've used some of theses activities as bell ringers to engage students as soon as they walk in to get them started.


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Submitted by Ashley Waring on Thu, 02/21/2019 - 11:02

This is very helpful information that I will be sharing with my middle school people. Thank you for this resource! I am going to work through the Khan Academy training myself.