I built this activity for a group of 120 students from grades 7-10 at a provincial math contest. The problems themselves are a mixture of created, adapted, and stolen. I chose them because they fit fairly nicely into a multiple choice format while still eliciting deep thinking.

The puzzle moves forward as follows:

There are 10 stations, and 10 problems. Each problem is responsible for giving a unique letter for the final word scramble. Some of the letters are repeated more than once in the final answer (i.e. have a frequency more than one), but no problem leads to the same letter.

Each station contains a single problem and four multiple choice options. Each option is paired with a cipher key to apply to a letter also given on the problem card for that station. The students move from station to station answering problems, getting correct Caesar cipher keys, decoding the letters, and building a bank of letters to later unscramble to get the secret message and complete the activity.

I included a space on each station card for Station Number and Room Number. I had 10 separate rooms to work with, and wanted to get the kids moving around the building; you could set up 10 stations in the same room. Closer confines leads to more debate.

An example is given on the student recorder sheet:

If a student feels that the correct answer to the problem is the second one, then they would receive the Caesar cipher key of 5. That would move the letter “**R**” (pictured on the page) 5 places through the alphabet landing on “**W**“. Because the frequency of this station is *x3*, three of those letters (“**W**“) would go into the pool of letters for the final word scramble.

I’ve uploaded a .pdf of the problem sheets (one for each station) as well as the student recorder sheet I gave them to house their answers and guide their search. Word documents had insane formatting issues when uploaded.

The final message should unscramble as: THREE POINT ONE FOUR

A couple other anagrams were deciphered by students:

The problems could be changed to test a specific topic as a review or work period. If you do change the questions, be sure the correct answers still align with the correct cipher keys.

NatBanting