Cracking the Code

On the first Monday of the Christmas holiday 27 QEH students went on the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) trip to London and Milton Keynes.

The mood was cheerful despite the early start, although there was a near disaster when the group discovered that the McDonalds at the motorway services was closed. Recovering from the lack of Egg McMuffins we arrived at the Natural History Museum, excited and keen to explore.

There can’t be many more beautiful or iconic museums in the world and we were quickly surrounded by dinosaurs and blue whales. The group immersed themselves in a treasure hunt challenge set by the staff. Some of the group also took the time to look around the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit, which was gorgeous and thought-provoking. Then, after a packed lunch and time to explore the Earth galleries, we went to our digs in the YHA and spent the evening bowling. There were some great scores and one or two tragic misses.

Next morning we went to Bletchley Park, which was home of the Enigma codebreakers in World War 2. We had time to explore and look around the recreations of the wartime offices before we went to our own codebreaking workshops. There were great fun, and saw the QEH groups break all kinds of codes using mathematical and cryptographic techniques that we learned in the seminars.

There was still time for a brief stop at the National Museum of Computing where we saw a restored Colossus, which is perhaps the first electronic computer and was used in the effort to break the Lorenz cipher. We also enjoyed playing some retro computer games and discovering more about the history of computing.

We arrived back at QEH ready for Christmas!

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Year 10 pupils absolutely loved their Story of Enigma cipher workshop.