The Courier

VIDEO: Pupils turn code breakers as World War II Enigma machine arrives at Monifieth High

Monifieth High School youngsters cracked the secret of a fascinating school day when they got their hands on a wartime Enigma machine.

The legendary kit is touring Angus schools as part of Maths Week Scotland, having been brought north from the Bletchley Park intelligence unit, which was home to the famous code breakers of the Second World War.

© DC Thomson
Science Minister Richard Lochhead visited Monifieth High as part of Maths Week Scotland

Bletchley Park education officer Thomas Briggs talked Monifieth pupils through the technology behind the equipment which played a crucial role in the outcome of the war. He ran practical codebreaking workshops with some of the youngsters.

Science Minister Richard Lochhead also visited the school as part of the event, which followed a visit to Arbroath High by Maths Week Scotland co-ordinator Katie Oldfield to see for herself the activities and learning experiences being undertaken by youngsters there.

© DC Thomson
Monifieth High S3 youngsters had the chance to decode the Enigma machine.

A project spokesperson said: “Bletchley Park brings together the dramatic history of the twentieth century with the challenges we face in the twenty first in our rapidly changing and technologically complex society.

“Maths and codebreaking is a stimulating and innovative way to engage all ages in the logical and computational thinking process that underpins mathematics.

“It also encourages people to solve problems by applying their mathematics to a variety of routine and non-routine problems with increasing sophistication, including breaking down problems into a series of simpler steps and persevering in seeking solutions.”

© Supplied
Alan Turing.

The activity has been funded by the Edinburgh Mathematical Society and the Scottish Government Curriculum unit, with the Bletchley Park education team due to visit all Angus secondaries during the week to explore maths and codebreaking.

Mr Lochhead said: “From cyber security to artificial intelligence, maths provides the essential framework for the life-changing advances that are re-shaping our world.

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“Technology has clearly developed considerably since the 1940s, but today’s event was a reminder that the logical and computational thinking processes used by the original Bletchley Park codebreakers are now more relevant than ever.

“It was fantastic to have the opportunity so see an original Enigma machine in action and hear how maths provided the vital framework for cracking the code while providing a fun and interesting way to learn maths.

© Getty
An Enigma coding machine used by the Germans in WWII on display at Bletchley Park.

“As we face the digital challenges of the 21st century there are countless opportunities for young people with maths skills. I hope Maths Week Scotland will help to spread that message and encourage more people to think positively about maths.”

Schools across Courier Country are taking part in the programme, with maths performer Andrew Jeffrey visiting secondaries in Perth and Pitlochry.

St Andrews University is giving lectures in local schools and will also be hosting a viewing of their collection of ancient mathematical texts, pairing it with a lecture on the material.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney is sharing a daily maths challenge on Twitter, created for him by the Scottish Mathematical Council.