Thursday, January 21, 2010

MEDIA ADVISORY: Kids Share Codes With Real-Life Codebreaker at LJ Elementary "Spy Day"

MEDIA ADVISORY From the San Diego Unified School District, January 21, 2010


WHAT: Spy Day at La Jolla Elementary School

WHEN: Noon to 1:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22

WHERE: La Jolla Elementary School, 1111 Marine St., La Jolla (92037-5131)

CONTACT: Donna Tripi, Principal, La Jolla Elementary School, (858) 454-7196


A real-life codebreaker and more than 75 La Jolla Elementary School students
will come together to take an unusual twist on learning math and critical
thinking skills -- how encryptions have been used by spies through the

The event, scheduled from noon to 1:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22, will involve
students dressing the part of secret agents to share their ciphers and other
encryptions that teach critical thinking skills. Marine MSgt Michael Todd
from Camp Pendleton will visit and discuss today's code breakers, while
Marine Corps Educator Joanie Schwarz-Wetter will share the story of the
Navajo Code Talkers of World War II.

The month-long project, paid for with a grant from Toshiba Co., uses pen and
paper stealth of wars past to entice today's kids to use their arithmetic,
subtraction, multiplication and factoring to send and read secret messages.
From the wars of Julius Ceasar to San Diego's training of the Navajo Code
Talkers who bested the Japanese with their unbreakable code, cryptology has
helped to topple some empires and secure others.

Increasingly, cryptology is being used to help keep America safe as today's
computers rely on encryption to secure information and terrorist
organizations use technology to recruit and execute their plans. La Jolla's
Top Secret Math grant, submitted by Seminar Teacher Johanna Weber, meets the
presidential objective to make this next generation competitive in math and

"We take the work of educating our future mathematicians and scientists
seriously, " La Jolla Principal Donna Tripi said. "With Top Secret Math we
wanted to show kids that math can be exciting and engaging."

The project began with a workshop by the San Diego Historical Society about
the use of codes through the ages, followed by encryption exercises in class
using text and workbooks. Friday, spy kids will share their own codes with
MSgt Michael Todd who is a modern "code-breaker" from Camp Pendleton.

Marine Corps Educator Joanie Schwarz-Wetter will tell students of San
Diego's role in training the Navajo Code Talkers of WWII. Artifacts
presented include WWII field radios, uniforms and dog tags, a codebook and a
recording in Navajo language.

INTERVIEWS/PHOTOS: Students, teachers and the Marine visitors will be
available for photographs and interviews.

# # #

Jack Brandais
Communications Department
San Diego Unified School District
(619) 725-5570 (Desk)
(619) 607-0477 (Cell)

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