[cryptography] teaching crypto to 7th-12th graders

travis+ml-rbcryptography at subspacefield.org travis+ml-rbcryptography at subspacefield.org
Tue Nov 9 17:00:46 EST 2010

Originally sent to cryptography at metzdowd but never got approved, le sigh.

Gonna teach a class on classical crypto to 7-12th graders this weekend.
Need to come up with filler - preferably not lecture style - to pad
out the talk by 50 minutes.

Was trying to come up with some cute demos, or ways to explain some
of the more advanced concepts.


Talk about tearing a dollar bill in half for spies to recognize each other
this is very similar to public key crypto; the public key and private key
are a pair, but not identical.
It is not, however, a zero-knowledge proof; by showing your half, an adversary
learns something (what your half looks like). If he took a quick picture, or
it was covertly filmed, he could impersonate either you or the other person

ZKP examples abound:


Another ZKP example (kinda) involves having a person prove they can
distinguish red from green.  Also one can ask whether a video of this
demonstration constitues proof that the prover is not, in fact,
red-green color blind.  Two pieces of colored paper are a simple prop
to acquire. :-)

Also, Stinson's visual crypto seems like a great way to teach secret sharing:
It seems like passing around transparencies with those images would be
a fun thing to break up the lecture format.

Other suggestions are:

Any others?
Good code works on most inputs; correct code works on all inputs.
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