Astonishing Science. Spectacular museum.
In this activity you will create and crack a code using a mobile phone.
Year groups: 6- 9 (ages 10- 14)
To create and crack a code using a mobile phone.
Bar-code trail activity sheet
Download student activity sheet [pdf]
Students will need access to:
There is encoded information all around us and the way it has been encoded has changed through history.
As technology progresses there is a need to pack more and more information onto cards. And because this requires more space for the code than current cards can provide, new types of bar codes have to be invented. The technology began with simple black-and-white line codes, and was followed by layered or ‘matrix’ codes in the 1990s. Now mobile phones are able to read a variety of specially designed mobile bar codes. This has only been made possible by recent advances in bar-code reader technology that have allowed cameras in mobile phones to act as code readers.
Image of 'Cooke and Wheatstone double-needle telegraph'
This particular Cooke and Wheatstone double-needle telegraph was built in 1844 and installed at a railway station in Slough, Berkshire. It was not used for railway signalling purposes, like other telegraphs, but for sending and receiving messages at the various stations. This instrument gained widespread publicity in 1845 when it received a message that led to the immediate arrest of a notorious murderer. The coding system of this double-needle telegraph is quite complicated, but it is actually very similar to how text messages on mobile phones are set up. You will find the Cooke and Wheatstone double-needle telegraph in the Telecommunications gallery at the Science Museum.