The Bletchley Park Challenge

Introduction

Learning is a large part of what happens at Bletchley Park. Visitors may not realise that our extensive education department welcomes schools, colleges and universities nearly every day. In our dedicated facility young people have the opportunity to learn about the history of cryptography, from the Caesar (or ‘shift’) Cipher through to today’s dual-key asymmetric techniques that we use every day of our lives, often without realising it.

As more and more children have access to smartphones and tablets, we have an opportunity to follow-up on these sessions with apps. Additionally, using mobile apps as an education medium means we can reach others that are not part of the education programme. Often a visit to Bletchley Park can be a little technical for the younger visitors. Sure they enjoy the toy museum and the model railways but often the ‘codes’ can go right over their heads. Wouldn’t it be great if we could appeal to them more at their level and help explain how codes and ciphers were used to keep secrets.

The Challenge

So, here’s what I’d like to see:
Devise a solution whereby one or more users can send ‘secret’ messages to each other using a dedicated BP-themed app. The cipher employed should be simple enough to be explainable and demonstrable to the user. For instance, a Caesar cipher (shifting the alphabet n places to the left or right) is simple to understand yet an effective cipher.

  • A form of communication network will be required. Use email or devise your own service as appropriate.
  • A user should be able to set the parameters for the cipher (as required by the cipher used) and encrypt a message
  • The message should be transmittable to another user
  • The recipient should be able to ‘guess’ the settings or the message content (or partial content – think Hangman) but not be told them, so if the sender wishes, they can reveal the setting or message.

What I envisage are parents being able to provide their children with the app at BP (although geo-dependancy would not be required) and the little ‘uns can have fun throughout the day sending secret messages to each other or their parents. In the process, the children learn a little about codes and are entertained.

The above is only a suggestion of how such an app could operate. Credit will be given for original thinking and ingenuity! It doesn’t have to be a Caesar cipher and indeed could be any form of game.

The only requirement is that it reflects on Bletchley Park in style.

If you have any questions, drop me a line via @mrpjevans on Twitter.

The Prizes

T-shirts for each member of the winning team from the Bletchley Park store (exact style yet to be determined).

Directions to Bletchley Park

 

Bletchley Park MansionThe Mansion, Bletchley Park, Sherwood Drive, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, MK3 6EB

 

(When using a sat-nav please enter Sherwood Drive, Bletchley, as the postcode may take you to the wrong location)

 

Ride Shares

If you are planning to drive to the venue, please consider posting on our ride share page.

By Rail

The entrance to Bletchley park is right across the road from Bletchley Railway Station, which has fast and efficient service from:

London Euston, Milton Keynes Central (for InterCity connections), Coventry and Birmingham New Street. Bedford Midland (except Sunday) for connections to London Thames Link, East Midlands and South Yorkshire.

The times on Friday the 30th out of London Euston on the London Midland Line are:

If you are travelling on the Marston Vale Community Railway you are entitled to a

20% discount on a season ticket, (the discount does not apply to separately ticketed events) for more information please visit the

Marston Vale Website

Turn right out of the Railway Station on to Sherwood Drive. Cross the road at the pedestrian crossing. Bletchley Park entrance is approximately 100 yards ahead of you.

By Bus

There are buses and coaches from all parts of Milton Keynes and beyond arriving at Bletchley Bus Station. On leaving the Bus Station head towards the Railway Station. The Bletchley Park entrance is on the opposite side of the road to the railway station 300 yards along Sherwood Drive.

By Road

For a downloadable version of the map below, please click here.

(When using a sat-nav please enter Sherwood Drive, Bletchley, as the post code will take you to the wrong location)

 

Please note: Milton Keynes is divided into grid squares, with roads numbered either as horizontal (H) or vertical (V).

From the North or East (via M1 junct 14)

At M1 Jct 14 follow the A509 signposted towards Milton Keynes. At the Northfield roundabout take the 2nd exit onto H6 Childs Way. At the Fox Milne Roundabout take the 1st exit onto the V11 Tongwell Street, and carry on straight across the next roundabout (Monkston). At the Brinklow roundabout turn right onto the H8 Standing Way (signposted to Kents Hill). Follow the H8 across 4 roundabouts, at the 5th (Coffee Hall) turn left on to the V7 (B4034) Saxon St. Continue across the first roundabout, at the 2nd Denbigh (has large B&Q on the right) take the 2nd exit towards central Bletchley. You will quickly come to a small double roundabout, continue straight across towards central Bletchley keeping the Tesco’s store on your left hand side. You will now be on a dual carriageway.

Continue along this road and you will come to another larger roundabout, continue straight across (Enigma Tavern to your left). At the next roundabout turn right (signposted to the railway station) and you will go under a railway bridge. (Follow signs to Railway station). After going under the railway bridge, you need to turn right at the double roundabout towards the railway station into Sherwood Drive. The railway station is on your right just on from the fire station. The new B.P entrance is on the left after M.K.College.

From the West (via A421)

From the A421 at the Tattenhoe roundabout follow the B4034 into Bletchley. You will go straight across a small roundabout continuing into Bletchley. You will see the Eight Belles pub on the left hand side. Continue straight on past the Eight Belles Pub until you reach the double roundabout, turn left towards the railway station into Sherwood Drive. The railway station is on your right just on from the fire station. The new B.P. entrance is on the left after M.K. College.

From the South (via M1 junct 13)

At M1 Jct 13 follow the A421 signposted for Milton Keynes. At the 2nd roundabout (Kingston) take the 2nd exit on to H9 Groveway. Follow the H9 across 3 roundabouts, at the 4th turn left on to the V7 Saxon St. Continue across the first roundabout, at the 2nd Denbigh (has large B&Q on the right) take the 2nd exit towards central Bletchley. You will quickly come to a small double roundabout, contine straight across towards central Bletchley keeping the Tesco’s store on your left hand side. You will now be on a dual carriageway.

Continue along this road and you will come to another larger roundabout, continue straight across (Enigma Tavern to your left). At the next roundabout turn right (signposted to the railway station) and you will go under a railway bridge. (Follow signs to Railway station). After going under the railway bridge, you need to turn right at the double roundabout towards the railway station into Sherwood Drive. The railway station is on your right just on from the fire station. The new B.P entrance is on the left after M.K.College.

From the South (via A5)

From the A5 junction with the A4146, take the exit signposted to Bletchley/Fenny Stratford. You will come to a double roundabout, go straight across. At the two small roundabouts also go straight across. At the next roundabout with Tesco on your left, turn left onto dual carriageway.

Continue along this road and you will come to another larger roundabout, continue straight across (Enigma Tavern to your left). At the next roundabout turn right (signposted to the railway station) and you will go under a railway bridge. (Follow signs to Railway station). After going under the railway bridge, you need to turn right at the double roundabout towards the railway station into Sherwood Drive. The railway station is on your right just on from the fire station. The new B.P entrance is on the left after M.K.College.