Use “Gravity Falls” to Teach Cryptography to Kids
Cryptography is used by cryptocurrencies. So, it is an essential concept for kids to start learning about when you are trying to teach them what cryptocurrencies are. A fun way to teach them the basics of cryptography is described below.
Gravity Falls is more than just a fun series by Disney for the kids. It is full of many mysterious codes that you can try and find answers to online. There is nothing of that sort when you are watching the show. However, those encrypted messages start appearing when the show ends, in the credits.
What’s Encrypting and Decrypting Anyway?
For kids not familiar with encrypting or decrypting, you have to start with the basics.
Encrypting is the process of converting data or information into code, so that no one without the technology or the mechanism of decrypting it (also called key) can understand (or decode) the message.
To decode or find the message hidden in data or information at hand, it used to be a manual process. But, now it has become a process that involves computing power.
So What is a Cipher?
The secret or a hidden or disguised way to write something. The term is somewhat similar to encryption.
Before you teach your children about cryptography, have a look at some of the history related to its development.
The Art of Cryptography
The art of cryptography is as old as the art of writing itself. Thanks to elusive ideas relating to politics, power struggle, battles and the ability to secretly send messages, cryptography has remained one of the most potent ways to secretively send messages.
The oldest technique used for cryptography goes back some 4,000 years. Egyptians, as the history annals suggest, were the first ones to use hieroglyph. Only the scribes writing the code would know how to decipher it. Kings were mostly afforded the luxury and probably had the urgency to send messages of such secretive nature. After hieroglyph, it advanced into replacing alphabets in a message using some secret rule.
Steganography takes the secrecy to a whole different level. This technique does not only ensure secrecy of the message but also strives to hide it altogether. The message cannot be seen by the naked eye. One typical example is the use of invisible watermarking.
The two commonly visible cryptography techniques used in the Gravity Falls include the Caeser Cipher and Atbash Cipher.
Caeser Cipher is among the earliest techniques used to secretly send information or deliver messages. It relies on a substitution method. Every letter is moved certain places like two, three or four places from its original place. A shift of 4 would replace the letter A with letter E.
So if you want to send a message,
Tom will meet you tomorrow. It will change to something gibberish given below.
Xsq bapp qiix csy xsqsvvsb.
So for those of you wondering what ZHOFRPH WR JUDYLWB IDOOV means… in Gravity Falls, it refers to Welcome to Gravity Falls.
The Atbash Cipher reverses the letter of each order. Atbash Cipher was originally created for the Hebrew language. However, it can be deployed for any other language. For example, the first letter of English A would be replaced by Z. The second letter B would be accordingly replaced with Y. In the seventh episode, you would find the use of Atbash Cipher.
Let us have a look at one example of how things would work in the Atbash Cipher.
So if we look at the above message “Tom will meet you tomorrow”, here is how you would encrypt it using the Atbash Cipher.
Tom will meet you tomorrow.
Gln droo nvvg blf glnliild.
So, with the simple cryptographic techniques mentioned in this article, you can have a casual discussion about cryptography with your children. We will be posting more articles on how to explain what cryptography is to your children. That way, they will know where cryptocurrencies come from!