For the second year in a row, our college-prep Algebra II classes are all doing a year-long applied math project centering on cryptography, which has long been one of the four units in our Algebra II curriculum. This project is based on the following premise:
Mr. A.C. Crett, Director of Human Resources of the National Security Agency (NSA), has been listening in on some conversations at a recent meeting of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. As a result of what he has heard, he has decided that students at Weston High School would be excellent candidates for summer internships at the NSA during July and August of 2016. You really want one of those jobs, so you need to send him an email message in which you apply for this internship.
After this, at various points throughout the year, students will tie together what they learn about cryptography, pretending that it’s all taking place during a summer internship at the NSA. At the end of the year they will assemble all of this into a report.
I would like to share with you (anonymously, of course) a few excerpts from some of my students’ cover letters. They really got into the spirit of the assignment! Here are some fragments of what they wrote:
I would like to intern at the NSA in the summer of August 2016. I would like to work for you because I personally love algebra. I think of it as a huge puzzle that you have to solve. I would enjoy decoding secret messages because I have had enough practice in my math classes in the past that I think I’m ready now to try something new.
I would like to work at the NSA. I would like to do this because I am a passionate codebreaker that has been hooked to coding and math my whole life. As opposed to other summer internships I would like to challenge myself the most physically and mentally possible so in the future I can possibly join forces with the NSA as a lifelong career. As a young boy I taught myself to code and do mathematical equations without help from anybody and this would be a dream come true if I had the honor of interning at the NSA.
Let’s get down to business, I want this job because I want to serve my country but not be a foot soldier. I want to be the genius behind taking down plots against the USA and stopping them before anyone even knows.
Ever since I started taking math classes when I was young, it has been a dream to work for the NSA. It would be an honor to have the opportunity to intern at the NSA. I always loved math and saw how useful it has been in life. It would be amazing to see all my hard work pay off if I got this internship.
I want the job because I am a smart young man with a good work ethic. I have also had an excellent record when it comes to my math education. In seventh grade I got all A’s throughout the whole year.
I am overjoyed that you have decided to accept students for Weston High School to intern at NSA. I was hoping I could have the chance to learn and intern at NSA. I might not be exceptional at math but I have the determination to do my best in the area. Once I get the hang of things and/or the thing that I am study, its smooth sailing after. I would really like this job so I could learn from experts and increase my understanding in mathematics.