Alkindi: Building Kids' Confidence to Code!

Alkindi finalists © 2024 EPFL/Alain Herzog

Alkindi finalists © 2024 EPFL/Alain Herzog

“The dream team 11a” has taken first place in the 2024 Alkindi-Switzerland contest which introduces cryptography to Swiss secondary students.

Organized by EPFL’s School of Computer and Communication Sciences ‐ EPFL (IC) in collaboration with the Science Outreach Department (SPS), and the Animath and France-ioi associations, in 2023/24 more than 2000 secondary students from across French-speaking Switzerland took part.

To reach the final, 9th, 10th and 11th graders worked alone or in pairs under the supervision of a teacher to solve three preliminary interactive problems to discover various aspects of crypto-analysis.

Seventeen teams made up of 54 students – this year half of them girls – made it to the finals competition, held this week at EPFL. During the challenges, each student team had to work together to decrypt alphabetic and numeric messages within two hours.

The winning team, ‘La dream team 11a” made up of Perrine Clément, David Naydenov, Elia Isaac and Thibault Marcuzzi, came from College du Gibloux in Farvagny, solving four exercises in an impressive 01h14m24s.

For supervising teachers, the experience provided an exciting dimension of learning and teamwork away from the classroom.

“Our team, DL4L, was really enthusiastic and even took time outside of their regular schedule to practice, it’s stimulated them quite a lot and I’m really proud of them,” said François Deronzier, a maths teacher at Nyon’s Etablissement secondaire Nyon-Marens. “I know this competition is already held in France and it would be great to see it grow to the European level, I think it would really inspire the kids!”

“Team lagricultureducoin_m2a0a2m_yt” and “Team naps” mentor, Thibault Grangier, from College Foron in Thônex believes that today’s students are very motivated by maths but often a challenge is their confidence.

“Often at first they believe something is impossible but as we work through a problem they realize it is within their reach. In the end they place greater trust in their teacher and believe that if they are being given a specific problem to solve that they are capable of doing it. This builds confidence and it’s a good life lesson – it’s very rare to be confronted with a problem in adult or professional life, and immediately know what to do. Alkindi and its problem-solving focus really builds kids’ confidence,” he said.

The Alkindi competition, which originated in France, is named after the ninth-century philosopher Al-Kindi, who is today considered to be one of the founders of cryptography – the study of codes.

Alkindi finalists 2024

First place:La dream team 11a (Perrine Clément, David Naydenov, Elia Isaac and Thibault Marcuzzi), Collège du Gibloux, Farvagny

Second place:los Matemáticos (Aloïs Prongué, Alice Zappella, Etienne Dobos, Inés barbu Sesma), Collège des Terreaux, Neuchâtel

Third place:JoLpbSahigo03 (Sacha Genoud, Joao Cachim, Shahin Ajdini, Hugo Marcadé), Etablissement primaire et secondaire Ollon, Ollon

Author: Tanya Petersen

Source: Computer and Communication Sciences | IC

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