Mystery Month in Genius Words: Meet Poet Edgar Allan Poe and Create Your Own Crytograms

March 5, 2022 / DIY & Printable

Genius content refreshes every month! This month, dive into all things “mystery,” from unexplained phenomena to the Geniuses who’ve built careers off the genre.

We’ve compiled limited-time game updates, real-life genius stories, and educator-approved activities into interactive printables, designed to enhance your little kids’ learning. Access this week’s printable by clicking the button below:

Game Update

In Osmo Words, waltz through a dance party at the Mystery Museum, tapping on each object to learn more. Only available this month!

Genius Spotlight: Edgar Allan Poe

“Cryptography” is the art of writing and solving secret codes. If you were writing a note with top-secret information, you’d want to use cryptography. ​That way, if someone got ahold of it, they wouldn’t be able to read it unless they knew what code (or “cipher”) you were using.

One of the most famous cryptographers is Edgar Allan Poe!

Edgar was an American poet and author of dark, mysterious tales. His interest in cryptography appears in “The Gold-Bug,” a story centered around cracking a secret code found on a piece of scrap paper.

When “The Gold-Bug” was published in 1843, cryptography was considered very mysterious to most people, the codes almost impossible to break. Edgar, however, believed you could decode almost any secret message using simple logic.

He put this to the test while working as a newspaper editor, inviting readers to send in their own ciphers. Sure enough, Edgar solved all but one of about 100 reader-submitted ciphers! He published an essay called “A Few Words on Secret Writing” around this time, too.

Edgar’s work helped popularized cryptography, which is now used in all sorts of ways to keep information private. Check out the activity below to try your hand at writing cryptogram!

Real-World Activity: Create Your Own Cryptograms

Try this educator-approved activity at home. This week’s printable (button above) has instructions with photos!

Try writing using the Atbash cipher! This secret code reverses the alphabet so the first letter (A) is written as the last letter (Z), etc. This week’s printable contains a guide.