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Cracking the Code: High School Crypto-Camp

Cracking the Code: High School Cryptology Program

Do you love puzzles, brain teasers, and secret codes? Are you fascinated by the role of ciphers and spies throughout history? Would you like to learn computer programming to decrypt real-world secret messages that went uncracked for centuries? Get out your decoder ring, because this is the summer program for you! From Julius Caesar to the Enigma machine to the RSA algorithm, codes (and the people who crack them) have decided the fates of empires and nations. Together with your code-cracking peers, you’ll explore the history of cryptology that begins almost as early as human writing, debate the ethics of spying and encryption, explore the mathematics behind cryptography, and program in the Python computer language (no prior coding experience necessary) to recreate codes throughout history and to craft your own. Beyond these specific skills, the practice of cracking codes involves honing your general problem solving skills - tenacity, perspicacity, creativity, flexibility, and confidence. Students will be able to employ these skills in their future challenges and puzzles that modern life provides for us all! Each day of the program will include live video instruction and discussion as a class, as well as self-paced modules that students will work on independently with support of the staff and their fellow students.

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Participant Schedule

July 13 - July 24, 2020

Class Times

10:00-12:00 Instructor led (synchronous)

1:00-3:00 Instructor facilitated (self-paced, independent work, group collaborations)

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Keethan Kleiner

Keethan Kleiner is an instructor of computer science at the North Carolina School of Science & Mathematics and is looking forward to teaching at Crypto-Camp again. He loves teaching and is passionate about increasing access to programming education. With a background in artificial intelligence, Keethan has taught a variety of courses at all programming skill levels as well as computer science research. He received his Bachelors of Science and Masters of Science degrees in Computer Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research was in natural language processing, and he worked as a software engineer in natural language generation after graduating.

Chris Gann

Chris Gann (they/their/them) designed Cracking the Code: Cryptology Camp and has been an instructor for it each summer starting in 2014. Teaching the science and art of writing, and reading, secret messages at Duke is consistently a highlight of their year! Chris is also an instructor of Physics and Computer Science at Carolina Friends School after beginning their career teaching mathematics at the North Carolina School of Science & Mathematics for over a decade. They graduated with a B.S. from Berry College in 2002, double-majoring in Physics and Mathematics and earning a minor in Computer Science. Chris then moved to NC, studying pure mathematics at UNC-Chapel Hill. In 2004, Chris completed their M.S. in Differential Geometry. They have a passion for teaching physics, mathematics, and programming, but Chris also enjoys hiking and running with their (very large) dog, Odin, spending time with their two precocious children, and geeking out over sci-fi and fantasy themed pastimes such as Magic the Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons. They are a life-long learner who loves to share curious facts and interesting questions with anyone who wants to listen. Chris endeavors to learn something new everyday!


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Technical Requirements

In order to fully participate in Duke Youth Programs Summer Online, you will need:

  • access to an email account for essential communications for your course.
  • speakers or headphones to hear instructors during live meetings, and a microphone to participate—a webcam is required.

Minimum requirements

These technical requirements apply to all Duke Youth Programs Summer Online classes for middle and high school students.


  • Computer running one of the following operating systems:
    • Window 7 or newer
    • Mac OSX 10.10 or newer
    • Access only to a mobile device will not be suitable for fully participating in Duke Youth Programs Summer Online.
  • 1 GB RAM available
  • 2 GHz or faster processor


  • Consistently reliable internet with at least 2k kbps available bandwidth
  • Chrome browser, latest two versions, with cookies enabled

Other requirements

Technical assistance

If you encounter difficulties with accessing you course, live meetings, online resources, or other technical materials, please contact

If you are having difficulty with hardware or with software unrelated to Duke Youth Programs Summer Online, you will need to seek technical assistance from the computer or software manufacturer.

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Duke Youth Programs Participation Agreement

The Program is an interactive, collaborative community of learners. Meaningful participation in the Duke Youth Program’s Summer Online program is the responsibility of the Participant, the Parent/ Legal Guardian, and the instructor.

It is the responsibility of the Participant to

  • log in and engage with instructor, peers, course activities, and course tools a minimum of five days a week;
  • respond within twenty-four hours to communications from instructors and Duke office staff;
  • notify the instructor at the start of the course about any planned absences, understanding that absences exceeding two synchronous sessions are against Program policy;
  • notify the instructor as soon as possible about any unplanned absences and take steps to prepare work for early or late submission, per the course make-up policy, and schedule submissions with the instructor;
  • check weekly announcements, course calendars, and activity checklists in order to stay up to date with assignments;
  • complete work on time in order to contribute to the community of learners;
  • actively engage in live and asynchronous discussions each week;
  • complete the majority of required assignments and assessments in order to receive a final evaluation;
  • know and understand the success criteria for individual assignments and assessments before attempting them;
  • know and understand the criteria for exemplary, successful, insufficient, and unsatisfactory work in the Duke Youth Program’s Summer Online Program; and
  • review and reflect on instructor feedback and look for and opportunities to apply feedback to new tasks.

It is the responsibility of the Parent/ Legal Guardian to

  • provide necessary resources (tools, time, and required technical equipment) for Participants to log in regularly;
  • review email and other notifications from program staff members regularly and, when needed, respond within twenty-four hours to communications from instructors and Duke office staff;
  • discuss your summer schedule with Participant during the application process, prior to the term, and at the start of the term, understanding that absences from online access exceeding two synchronous sessions are against Program policy;
  • communicate regularly with Participant about any unplanned absences so Participant can inform the instructor and arrange for early submission or make-up work;
  • check in with Participant weekly about coursework and progress in the course toward meeting success criteria and course completion;
  • know and understand the criteria for exemplary, successful, insufficient, and unsatisfactory work in the Duke Youth Program’s Summer Online Program; and
  • utilize the available resources to monitor your Participant’s participation and progress as needed.

It is the responsibility of the Duke Youth Program’s Summer Online Program instructor to

  • post weekly announcements, activity checklists, and make-up policies, and maintain an updated course calendar;
  • clearly communicate to Participants the expectations and success criteria for all assignments and assessments;
  • regularly provide timely feedback to Participants on assignments and assessments;
  • maintain the course gradebook so that Participants can accurately assess their progress;
  • provide a final evaluation that is reflective of the Participant’s work and follows the criteria for exemplary, successful, insufficient, and unsatisfactory work in the Duke Youth Program’s Summer Online Program;
  • respond to inquiries and communications from Participants and families within twenty-four; and
  • follow participation checkpoints and the program participation policy for instructors by messaging all Participants and families per the policy regarding class assignments and engagement expectations.

Duke Youth Programs Community Standard

  • I will take full advantage of the academic and social opportunities provided by Duke. I will apply myself to the best of my ability in my studies and participate fully in collaborative activities and the Duke community.
  • I will not lie, cheat, steal, or plagiarize in my academic and collaborative endeavors, nor will I support the actions of those who do.
  • I understand that Duke policies have been developed to promote the safety and enjoyment of the program for all participants. I will adhere to these policies and follow the direction of Duke staff members.
  • I will be honest, responsible and fair in all my activities as a Participant. I will conduct myself in a manner that is respectful of other Participants, Duke staff, and Duke digital spaces. I understand that harassment, intimidation, and bullying will not be tolerated.
  • I will share in the responsibility of maintaining an environment where individual actions do not violate the integrity of the community. I will accept responsibility for my own actions and accept the consequences of those actions.
  • I will view the Program as a community and will recognize the commonalities and respect the differences that make each Participant unique. I will abide by Duke University's nondiscrimination policy regarding race, color, religion, national origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, sex, genetic information, and age.

Duke Youth Programs Digital Citizenship Agreement

The Duke Youth Program’s Summer Online program utilizes a variety of online resources and other tools and programs that require Participants to post, share, and publish work online in both protected and open environments. This agreement serves as a resource to help Participants maintain safety and privacy while interacting in online environments such as these. It is important that both the Participant and the Parent/ Legal Guardian carefully read and understand this agreement.

I will protect my identity in all online environments. This includes not sharing your email address, home address, phone number, full name, birthdate, location, school name, or any other information that might pose a privacy or security risk.

I will protect the security of my fellow classmates, instructor, and Duke information by not sharing information in our Duke online community with others. It is important that Duke online communities are a safe and welcoming space to share ideas and work. Therefore, it is very important that you don’t share the course content, participant information, or participant work with anyone other than your parents.

I will manage my own passwords. It is crucial that you develop a secure password for all sites, and that you never share that password. You are responsible for managing all passwords you create. Should your instructor assign a tool that requires you to create an account, you will need to remember that password on your own.

I will be responsible for maintaining or deleting my accounts. You are solely responsible for what happens with the accounts you create after the conclusion of your Duke Youth Program’s Summer Online course. Duke and your instructor may share links to your products or capture screenshots of your work, but you own both the products and the accounts you create. It is recommended that you go into the settings of these accounts and change the email address to a personal email at the conclusion of your course. We request that you keep all accounts and products active for one week following the conclusion of your session to ensure your work can be properly assessed and evaluated by your instructor. Deleting these products before that date could result in an incomplete program evaluation from Duke. After August, you may choose to either maintain or delete these accounts. Duke will not be able to assist you with retrieving passwords or products from these accounts, either during or after the course.

I will use my Sakai account to communicate with classmates and my instructor. All course-related communications should be from your Sakai account to your instructor or classmates’ Sakai accounts. You should never use a personal account for course communications.

I will exhibit appropriate behavior online. Many internet tools allow for a wide range of interaction, including comments, posts, discussions, and peer feedback. Everything you write or share online is a reflection of you, and should be treated as both permanent and public. It is your responsibility to make wise decisions about how you want to be perceived by instructors and classmates, as well as potential schools and employers that might one day see the interactions you have had online. Commit to only sharing appropriate information, images, and multimedia resources.

I will respect myself and others at all times. Never share a post, comment, or image that could be perceived as disrespectful. Do not engage with or respond to inappropriate or disrespectful posts or images. Report inappropriate activity to your instructor or Duke.

I will adhere to copyright laws and fair use guidelines. It is important that you never use copyrighted work without permission, and that you always credit the original producer of the work. This includes text from books or websites, images, videos, and any other resource you obtain. This is particularly important when you are creating and sharing things online that could potentially have a public audience that may interpret these items as your own work. If you are unsure of whether you might be using copyrighted materials, refer to the Duke Youth Program’s Summer Online polices or seek the help of your instructor. “I didn’t know” is not an excuse for plagiarism or copyright infringement.

I understand that it is my responsibility to read the terms of use or service and adhere to any age restrictions. Most web tools have specific age restrictions and terms of use that they expect users to follow. These are typically located at the bottom of all pages, particularly the home pages. It is your responsibility to read, understand, and follow these guidelines. Duke will never expect or require you to use any tool in a manner that violates the terms of use or age restrictions. If you aren’t sure whether you can complete an assignment due to age restrictions, seek the help of your instructor immediately.

I will contact my instructor or Duke staff if at any time I feel uncomfortable about online activity related to my course. You have the right to feel safe and protected when utilizing online tools and resources. If at any time you feel uncomfortable, or experience or witness instances of bullying, harassment, inappropriate language or content, please contact your instructor or Duke staff as soon as possible. If you are concerned about the manner in which you are being asked to share an assignment, your instructor can offer an alternative method or tool, or an alternate assignment.

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1. REGISTER ONLINE with our secure, real-time registration system to pay by credit card. Please add the class to your shopping cart and follow the instructions for checking out. You will be asked to create a new account, if you do not yet have one. You must select the Youth Participant option when creating the student's account. You will receive email notification of your registration and payment. If you have not received this notification within four business days or if you have any questions, please call 919-684-6259.

2. Telephone during normal business hours: 919-684-6259.

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