School Field Trips

The National Cryptologic Museum has fun, educational field trip programs for grades 4-12.  Contact the Director of Education to schedule your class by using the form below, or call 301-688-5849, or email

EFFECTIVE MARCH 4, 2024: School groups are limited to Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday and require a minimum of 15 students.

Current Offerings:

Scavenger Hunt
 – working in small groups, students hunt the museum for matching artifacts and answer history or cryptologic questions.  In the classroom, the Education staff go over the answers awarding small prizes for correct responses and teaching more about cryptographic methods and history. Different, age-appropriate hunts are provided for elementary grades 4 and 5, and middle through high school students.  (Levels cannot be mixed.)
– Total time for hunt and answers: 2 hours
– Class sizes 15-60. One chaperone per ten students is required, more are welcome.

Guided Tours – although generally not recommended for younger audiences, small groups up to 15 students can receive a guided tour of the museum from the Education Director.  High school classes (up to 40 students) can select a tour from the adult tour listings
– Time: 60 minutes
–Class sizes 15-40. One chaperone per ten students is required, more are welcome

Add On Programs:

STEM Focused

  • Careers at NSA – for grades 4-12 this talk introduces students to NSA’s core missions and the diverse careers available at NSA, emphasizing the technical skills of the workforce – 30-45 minutes
  • Cryptanalysis 101 – for grades 4-10 students will learn basic cryptology terminology and four classic encryption techniques plus the mathematics behind the cryptanalysis (frequency counts and cipher patterns).  Students decrypt several messages using substitution and transposition ciphers – 45-60  minutes
  • Cryptoball – grades 6-10 will be introduced to substitution and transposition encryption methods by encoding and decoding messages.  Then they play an indoor football-like game where the offensive team creates a secret code to designate the intended receiver.  Students on the defensive team are challenged to ‘think outside the box’ to break the code and intercept the ball – 60 minutes
  • Defending the Nation in Cyberspace – grades 8-12 are challenged to ask, “How are you protecting yourself from threats in cyberspace? What are the most prominent cyberspace threats? What is the evolution of cyber threats and how is NSA protecting national assets and networks against unwarranted cyber activity?” Students partake in a “Day in the Life” activity outlining the many NSA roles necessary to work together to detect, analyze, interpret, and provide solutions for a typical cyber incident – 45-60 minutes
  • Experimenting with Chance – for grades 4-8 students examine the concept of probability by exploring the scientific method.  The ideas of testing hypotheses, collecting data by simulation, and empirical probability will be emphasized.  Through interactive play, pairs of students perform statistical experiments (such as rolling dice) to test their hypotheses regarding the results. – 45-60 minutes
  • Winning Games: Luck or Logic – for grades 6-12 students are introduced to the basic concepts of game theory.  They play familiar games such as tic-tac-toe and rock-paper-scissors and examine the strategies required to win or avoid losing.  Students are also introduced to variations on these games and must extend their analysis to determine how to adapt winning strategies.

Social Studies – although normally provided in-person at the host school or virtually, these programs are available for museum field trips as well.  They are designed to meet Maryland Dept. of Education Social Studies Standards for grades 4-8 and cover appropriate portions of cryptologic history for each grade.

  • Revolutionary Secrets – different interactive talks for grades 4/5 and 8 cover cryptologic techniques and their role in the American Revolution – 30 minutes
  • Civil War – different talks for grades 5 and 8 cover the cryptology, communications, and the role of enslaved and free blacks during the American Civil War – 30-45 minutes
  • Writing Made Secret – for 6th grade presents the history of writing and early methods of encryption from Roman times through the Renaissance – 30 minutes
  • Battle of Codes – for 7th grade this talk discusses the role and results of cryptology, both making and breaking, in WWII – 45 minutes
  • Cold War – for 7th grade this talk looks at the U.S. response to the tensions of the Cold War – 30 minutes


  • Arabic Write to Left – for grades 4-8, students are introduced to the Arabic language and the different parts of the world where Arabic is spoken.  Students will have an opportunity to practice writing and speaking simple phrases, and learn about  career as a language analyst – 45-60 minutes
  • Chinese Logic – for grades 4-8 this talk deciphers Chinese characters!  Each picture has a meaning and by recognizing these pictures and combining them, the students will guess the meaning of new words. Through games, logic, and problem-solving, students will realize that learning a new language is fun- 45 minutes
  • Chinese New Year – grades 4-12 learn about the origin and the customs of the Chinese New Year, the character traits associated with the current year, and have fun learning the year’s lucky greetings and phrases – 30 minutes

Contact Information

School Information

Type of Program Requested

Please pick only one

Add-On Presentation

Date and Time of Tour Request

Museum is open for tours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays from 10:00 AM through 4:00 PM

Additional Information