Bletchley Park Super Visit with Keiran Poole
We mathematicians are a little different than the average person. We love to sink our teeth into puzzles, problems and generally anything ‘mathsy’ in our spare time. This isn’t something that everyone enjoys, and it can be quite a challenge to get people as enthusiastic about maths as we are. Trying to convince friends and family to visit places of mathematical interest can be quite tricky. So when the opportunity to visit Bletchley Park came along, I couldn’t wait to sign up.
If you haven’t been to Bletchley Park, go! The history of this elegant country estate on the outskirts of Milton Keynes is remarkable. To think such a top-secret operation was taking place there is mind-blowing. For those who don’t know, Bletchley Park was home to some of Britain’s finest mathematical minds during the Second World War. Their job was to decipher the coded messages being sent between the enemy; not an easy task, the Germans believed their Enigma machine was ‘unbreakable’. The intelligence gained from the code breakers work at Bletchley Park is said to have shortened the war by two years, saving countless lives. The guided tour sheds light on a fascinating tale of Espionage, counterintelligence and code breaking. If you do get the chance, take the guided tour – you won’t be disappointed.
While visiting, the scholarship team had organised a code breaking workshop that offered an engaging insight and understanding of the Enigma machine. Being in a room full of mathematicians enabled a captivating session where we could really dive into the heart of the mathematics. We even got to build our own version of the Enigma machine – a great activity that I will use in the classroom!
I left Bletchley Park with great enthusiasm towards cryptography and a real desire to teach students about the ideas and history that has developed in the field of cryptography. This new-found fascination is something that would never have come about had I not been to Bletchley Park, an essential visit for any mathematician.