Ready to break some codes? Look closely at the 8 stainless steel pillars outside Questacon – you’ll spot an array of strange letters, numbers and symbols. Each pillar holds a secret message. Use your ingenuity, collaboration and problem-solving skills to decrypt them!

The encrypted codes on each pillar are discrete but interlinked. So solving one pillar may provide a clue to solving others. Some puzzles can be solved quickly, and others are much more challenging. The final puzzle will open with a key that will emerge from the solution of all other codes.

The NKRYPT pillars were installed in 2013 to mark the Centenary of Canberra. To date, not all the sculpture’s secrets have been uncovered.

At home

You can use cryptography to write and send your own secret messages!

Cryptography is the practice of sending secret messages by hiding information in patterns and puzzles. Often, a message can only be decoded with a key that explains how to solve the puzzle.

One of the most famous encryption techniques is the Caesar cipher, which shifts each letter in the alphabet by a certain number. A Caesar shift of 1 would replace A with B, B with C and so on – ‘secret message’ would become ‘tfdsdu nfttbhf’.

Try encryption for yourself by using a Caesar cipher to write a secret message for a friend.

Did you know

Cryptography has been used by spies and military leaders for thousands of years. It is widely used today to protect our personal information online.