The CryptoClub Project in the Learning Sciences Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago develops classroom and web-based materials to teach cryptography and related mathematics to middle school students in informal settings. During a typical session, students are introduced to a cipher (method of encrypting) and then practice it through games and activities that involve secret messages. In some activities, students move around—for example, in a treasure hunt, they follow a trail of encrypted clues around the school to find a hidden treasure; and in a relay race, teams run back and forth, competing to be the first to gather and decrypt the parts of a secret message. In other activities, students sit quietly and think deeply about patterns that might help to break a code. In addition to cryptography, CryptoClub applies mathematics topics from the middle school curriculum, such as decimals and percentages, division with remainder, common factors, and negative numbers. It also applies pre-algebra skills, such as pattern recognition and problem solving. CryptoClub offers many opportunities for students to develop the mathematical habits listed in Standards for Mathematical Practice from the Common Core State Standards.
Each month we publish blogs and several newsletters full of
digital learning, funding, professional growth, social media, and STEM
resources. Below are items from our blogs and newsletters that educators turned
to the most in 2018.
The nonprofit Khan Academy has launched Khan Academy Kids for early learners (aged 2–5). The education app includes thousands of original activities, books, videos, and lessons, and combines subjects such as math and reading with creative activities.
The Botball Educational Robotics Program engages middle school and high school students in a team-oriented robotics competition and serves as a way to meet the Next Generation Science and Common Core Standards.