On Wednesday 13th November, A Level students studying Computer Sciences at Hucknall Sixth Form Centre took part in an educational visit to Bletchley Park.
Bletchley Park is often referred to as the World War Two home of codebreaking, where machinery was developed to aid the decryption of German transmissions. Students discovered the technologies that were used to decrypt the Lorenz encryption device in World War Two. These technologies are based on the work of Gilbert Vernam, whose algorithm students have the opportunity to study and recreate during their course. At Bletchley, the allies were able to use Colossus, the world’s first programmable computer, to break the code used by the Lorenz machine.
During their visit, students also gained practical knowledge of using encryption techniques to encode information for transmission. This knowledge can be transferred back to their computer sciences studies, where understanding the use of algorithms for encryption is a key aspect of their learning.
There was also the opportunity for students to explore BBC micro-computers from the early 1980s and use them to write software. Led by their guide Robert, they were able to observe how the choice of language affects execution speed and were also given an overview of the BBC micro-computer’s CPU (Central Processing Unit) and how this affects the speed of processing.
A fantastic day was had by all, with students developing a real insight into the importance of computer science in society.