In light of many schools going completely virtually or meeting in person with restrictions on shared materials, I have updated this post with a Jamboard template that allows students to collaborate on this task in a virtual space.
Click HERE to jump to these Virtual Materials
Each of the clues is encoded using a different cipher technique. Each of these techniques are outlined in the resource posters shared below. None of these ciphers are too intense and the keys are given when needed so students should be able decrypt the messages without having to employ frequency analysis or other more advanced cryptography techniques. One of the biggest challenges for the students is that even though the resource posters provide the information about each cipher, it isn't always obvious which cipher to use for a particular clue.
I wanted students to teach themselves the necessary skills to decode these messages. To facilitate this, I created standalone posters that provide students with all of the resources they need even if they don't have any background in cryptography techniques. I printed these posters and hung them up around the room. From these, students should be able to decode any of the secret messages. I encouraged my students to walk around the room and take photos of the posters so they could bring these resources back to their group.
Virtual Cryptography Murder Mystery
To avoid sharing materials or allow participation in an online setting, a Jamboard template can be used instead of pieces of paper.
The link below will force a copy of the Jamboard that I put together as a virtual version of this task. You can either modify this and share with students or give them this link for them to create their own copy and share it with the rest of their group.
Below are the files for the posters and clues. Please use and share freely for non-commercial purposes. If you have any questions or ideas, leave a comment below :)
Below you will find a .zip file of the digital (PDF and editable) files needed for this cryptography murder mystery task. All of the files are included individually in the sections above as well but it's nice to get everything in one tidy package!
Father, Physics Teacher, Knowles Fellow, Friend, Techie, and Musician