Cipher Challenge Success

Despite timetabled lessons continuing as usual during lockdown, a group of students have managed to combine their remote learning with taking part in a national cryptography competition!

When we closed our doors for most students at the end of March, many extra curricular activities had to cease too, but that wasn’t the case for Maths Club. It simply moved to the Teams platform and reinvented itself as Virtual Maths Club.  Since then, members of the club have kept themselves extremely busy deciphering codes in a special lockdown edition of the National Cipher Challenge, which is an annual cryptography competition organised by the University of Southampton.

During this special edition of the challenge, which ran for ten weeks, students worked in small teams or as individuals and used their mathematical, IT and problem solving skills to decipher a series of hidden messages which increased in difficulty as the competition progressed.  Two of the teams, one from year 7 and the other from year 9, finished joint second overall in the competition. This represents a fantastic achievement, especially as many of the children were new to the world of ciphers and were competing against other children, and indeed adult competitors, who were experienced in cryptography.

Ms Jarvis who runs the club said “I was so impressed with how our students engaged with this competition. Despite working remotely, the level of collaboration throughout the challenge was fantastic”.  The Cipher Challenge returns in the autumn term and, regardless of whether we are back in school as normal or working remotely, the members of Maths Club are excited about taking part and building on this summer’s success!

One member of the club, Anish Srikanth, in year 8, didn’t take part in the competition but was keen to contribute and produced this fantastic photo montage of the HGS competitors, which is fully compliant with social distancing measures.  The successful cipher crackers are, from left to right: Chinwendu Mere, Hannah Baporia, Daniyal Shaikh, Tazkia Dokrat, Harshil Patel, Charlie Pearse, Tao Li, Miriam Molokwu, Kelvin Zhang, Zaynah Hussain, Zoeya Hamid, Daijo Jentin, Eleni You, Leesha Dubey, Taveesha Vashishta, Arnav Maniyar, David Tomlinson and Qusain Mir.