The Mystery Code Project was a collaboration between 11th grade English, math, and art classes. In English class, students read detective fiction by authors such as Edgar Allen Poe, Sherlock Holmes, and Dan Brown and then wrote their own stories using math codes as part of the solution to the mystery. Students were put into peer editing groups and used googledocs to give and get feedback from their peers during the composition and revision process. In math, students used backwards planning sheets and peer revision to create the codes and mathematical references for their stories, which included matrix encryption, function notation with symbols, shift ciphers, counting principles and “cryptarithmetic.” In art class, students created cover art for their stories. The art and stories, along with hyperlinks to a “how they solved it” section showing the math workbehind the codes, are published on our project website. Finally, as part of exhibition night, each group chose one story to record in the style of an old time radio show, complete with sound effects.
There were several things I loved about this project. First, although many students struggled to smoothly and authentically incorporate the math codes into their stories, through the extensive feedback and revision process and with the help of their peers, they all ended up with something they felt proud of. This project pushed them beyond what they thought they were capable of. Second, students were passionate about their stories and their characters, many of them going beyond the required page limit in their development of characters who became real people to them, with real personalities and quirks.
I loved writing the story! I’ve always enjoyed creative writing and this was a great opportunity to work on that. Incorporating the math was hard but I am so proud of my complete story and art!
To learn more about this project go to: