Codes & Ciphers

March 12, 2010

Lloyd, School

On Friday, during the last period of the day we have “clubs” in middle school. I’m nominally in charge of setting them up every year, and I tell the people who lead one that the trick is to pick something that you are interested in. If you don’t pick something that you like, it quickly becomes a chore.

What I don’t tell them is that you should also pick a club that self-selects for students that you would like to have in your club. So my clubs have names like: Chess Club (first rule of Chess Club: You don’t talk about chess club), Recreational Mathematics or Codes & Ciphers.

This semester I’m doing Codes and Ciphers, and about 90 minutes before the first meeting of the Codes & Ciphers club we decided (In the middle of programming class) that we should start it off with a treasure hunt. So the programming students, half of whom are alumni of the Codes & Ciphers club, put together a treasure hunt that went splendidly.

I didn’t want them all running around the school like a herd of cattle, so we made the first puzzle the hardest. Everything was in the form of riddles (because we hadn’t learned any ciphers yet) but the first one was written backwards. This spaced them out by about 5 minutes. The first riddle sent them searching under the tables in the commons. There were three riddles there, and each one sent them off in a different direction. So now I had them separated in time and space.


The third clues were all outside and were all the same, “What is between the brush and the saw?” At our school one of the computer labs is located between the art room and the shop. Once they got there they found a website address on the board which contained the next clue. That clue sent them back to the start where I had scrounged up some cookies for prizes (if they had written down all of the clues).

They loved it, and I overheard some of them later telling everyone that their club was, “The. Best. Club. Ever.” Missions accomplished.

About Lloyd

Lloyd Sommerer is a middle/high school teacher who likes to build websites, read books, grow beards, make fun of Lauren’s prototypes and eat the sauce of the picante.

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5 Responses to “Codes & Ciphers”

  1. Brad Said on:

    I would name my club “People who are kind of quiet, but like to tell or listen to amusing stories while sitting still and coloring designs I photocopied out of a book”


  2. Beth Said on:

    I think I might try, “People who enjoy getting serious dental work done by an amatuer.”

    Mostly because I need more breaks in my day.


  3. Lauren Said on:

    Hmmmmm….”Watching Television Shows On Hulu” is probably taken by someone else.

    Recreational Mathematics? You make them put sunscreen on for that, right?


  4. rachel in L.A. Said on:

    you are the coolest middle school teacher EVER! you’re gonna be the teacher that kids congratulate in their inaugurations speeches. We had a gaming club in high school called Flying Buffalo. mostly Risk and D&D.


  5. Lloyd's Mom Said on:

    I like the fact that the programming class pitched in. Awesome. Many minds make light work. I wish you could have taught your little brothers.


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