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Getting the Message

When you send a message on your phone, how does it get to the other end? When information is being sent to access an app or your bank account or even stream a song – how does it get through?

This ABC TV Catalyst story presents the problem around sending and receiving data via your mobile phone, explaining how mobile telecommunications use digital information and the importance of error detection and correction software just so we can talk to one another. The details of this problem have been simplified to a number game: the sudoku. The rules and game-play of this ubiquitous puzzle serve as a wonderful demonstration of the nature of error correction.

The Getting the message NLNW activity is all about this. NLNW Ambassador Simon Pampena has applied his mathematical knowledge to working out a fun way of demonstrating how to transmit a simple code between two people even when a third person is actively trying to block the message being sent. As he explains below:

The activity

You might like to use the above video to introduce the Getting the message activity to your students or use the Activity Introduction document to tailor the introduction to your class. All the activity instructions and templates are available on this page. Some teachers may also like to include a scenario that suits their class. It could be as simple as accessing your favourite app via your phone or a secret that could save the world!

Once the introduction is complete, this video demonstrates how to run the actual activity component:

Activity documents and templates

Lesson Planning

Templates required for the activity


If there are concerns about being able to solve any of the sudokus used in this activity there are detailed guides: