Students from Derby High School were given a hands-on maths lesson when they visited Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire – Britain’s top secret code-breaking centre during World War Two. More than 40 year-eight students went on the trip, which was organised by the school’s head of maths Robert Dodson, and were given a tour of the building and its grounds. They also had the opportunity to see the world-famous Enigma machine which was used by actor Benedict Cumberbatch in the film ‘The Imitation Game’ and the Bombe machine.
Mathematicians were recruited to work at Bletchley Park to create pioneering computers that decoded encrypted German military communications. On the way to Bletchley Park, each girl was given their own cipher to solve in a sealed envelope.
Sue Bussey, library resources manager at Derby High School, runs the code and cipher club in school. She said: “The girls were each given their own cipher and that tied in with one of the edicts of Bletchley Park, which was that no-one really knew what kind of work was taking place there for a long time and people working in one hut wouldn’t necessarily know what was going on in the next hut.
“The girls had a talk from the education and Enigma outreach officer, who also gave them a cipher, and they were very excited to touch the Enigma machine that Benedict Cumberbatch used in ‘The Imitation Game’.”
Students were also told how two thirds of the workers at Bletchley Park were girls, including some 14-year-olds. Sue Bussey added : “All the girls really enjoyed the trip and it really brought maths to life for them.”
Student Georgina Pugh-Lewis, 13, said: “Learning about code-cracking and how the Enigma machine worked was really interesting. It was quite strange to think how it had played a big part in the war when it was such a small machine.”