We've teamed up with Zebra Pen to teach kids about cryptography!

We've teamed up with Zebra Pen to teach kids about cryptography!

Have you heard about the Caesar Shift Cipher? It’s not this summer’s hottest dance craze ᠆ it’s actually a way to create coded messages with cryptography!

Cryptography is the art of writing and solving codes. It actually translates to the words “secret writing.” It’s been used for thousands of years and there are many different types of codes, also known as ciphers. A cipher is is method to encrypt (and then decrypt) messages.  

One type of cipher is a Caesar Shift Cipher, which Julius Caesar used when he was in power around 100BC.  Here’s how it works: With this cipher, each letter of the alphabet is shifted by a certain fixed number. The shift is called a ROT, which stands for rotation. So if ROT = 1, then A = B, B = C, C = D, and so on. 

The Caesar Shift Cipher is easy to assemble and, once you understand how the code works, super easy to use! In fact, once you get the hang of it, you may never write stop writing in code again! 

How to assemble and use a Caesar Shift Cipher Wheel:

  1. Print and cut out the two cipher disks.
  2. Place the smaller disk on top of the larger disk. Stick a tack through both disks. (You can place an eraser on the sharp end of the tack so you don’t stick yourself).
  3. The small disk on top is your KEY. Choose any letter and rotate so it is lining up with the letter “A” on the bottom disk.  You’ve now set up your cipher wheel and can begin writing your message!  Whatever number corresponds with the letter you’ve chosen becomes the name of the code. For example, a code where the A is rotated over the letter E becomes a ROT-5. ROT stands for “Rotate” and 5 is used because E is the fifth letter of the alphabet. 
  4. Continue finding each letter until your message is encrypted. Once you’re finished, give it to a friend or family member to try to decipher the code!

There are 25 different rotation options for a Caesar Shift Cipher Wheel. Practice writing the same word in with a different rotation! And if you’re ready to create coded messages to share with your friends and family, head over to zebrapen.com to find the perfect code-writing pen for your project!

Click here to download the free Caesar Shift Cipher Wheel.

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