What happens in a CryptoClub?

During a typical session, students are introduced to a cipher (method
of encrypting), and then practice it through games and
activities that involve secret messages. In some activities
students move around, for example, in a treasure hunt, they
follow a trail of encrypted clues around the school to find
a hidden treasure. In a relay race, teams runback and
forth, competing to be the first to gather and decrypt the
parts of a secret message. In other activities student sit
more quietly and think deeply about patterns that might
help to break a code. The CryptoClub website, cryptoclub.org, provides additional games and challenges for continued exploration. Some clubs may further student learning by making video tutorials in which students explain their solutions to mathematics and cryptography problems.
What is the academic content in CryptoClub?

In addition to cryptography, CryptoClub applies mathematics topics
from the middle-school curriculum, such as decimals and
percents, division with remainder, common factors, and
negative numbers. It also applies pre-algebra skills, such
as pattern recognition and problem solving.
CryptoClub offers many opportunities for students
to develop the mathematical habits listed in *Standards for Mathematical Practice*from the

*Common Core State Standards.*For detailed discussion of the mathematics content in CryptoClub see the two documents: Mathematics in CryptoClub and CryptoClub Connections to CCSSM. A teacher wrote: “It was valuable for students to see over and over that there wasn’t one formula to solve each puzzle or crack each code—that they had to employ a variety of strategies and consider the reasonableness of their answers along the way.”

Who comes to CryptoClub?

Cryptoclub
appeals to students of all abilities. Students enjoy the problem
solving involved with cracking, decoding, and encoding
the various ciphers as they gain understanding of an
exciting real world application of mathematics. Students who
usually do well in math thrive in CryptoClub because
it uses mathematics related to what they study in
school.
But students who do not usually excel in math often
experience success in Cryptoclub because it uses mathematics in different ways.
CryptoClub students say: “What I liked the most is
that it made me better at math.” “I learned
how to do more math things.” “We all had fun together and
I got to make new friends.” “I liked it because it was
something new.” “It was something I hadn’t
heard about.” “Yeah, it was really cool – a new experience.”
What is a CryptoClub Video Tutorial Club?

In some CryptoClubs, students extend their learning by making video
tutorials about their solutions to mathematics and
cryptography problems. They use a
variety of technologies to make their tutorials, such as
tablets, Smartboards, cameras, and software that captures
their game-play at cryptoclub.org. Making video
tutorials can be an exciting way to for students to think
more deeply about mathematics and practice communication
skills. CryptoClub
Leaders who are interested in including tutorial making as
part of their activities are welcome to attend
a Video Tutorial Training Workshop.
What materials are needed to lead a CryptoClub program?

Students should each have their own CryptoClub Cipher Handbook, which
introduces the topics and provides practice in a write-on,
workbook format. Calculators are recommended, as is access
to the Internet so students can use the CryptoClub.org
website. The CryptoClub Leader
Manual gives suggestions for introducing the material,
provides blackline masters for games and extra activities,
and discusses common errors and connections to
middle-school mathematics. Both are available for purchase
through the UIC
Bookstore of the Unviersity of Illinois at Chicago.