Kids, Code, and Computer Science Magazine

PRNG

Vladimer Shioshvili on Flickr

Another mysterious four-letter acronym that helps secure information online.

Imagine the following scenario: you’re planning a surprise party for your friend Amelia. It’s going to be epic: glow in the dark balloons, dancing monkeys, five-story cake. You want to hand out the invites in person, but Amelia is a little nosy and sometimes reads over peoples’ shoulders. What to do?

PRNG stands for Pseudo-Random Number Generator (all the short, snappy names were taken). It’s a piece of software that spits out random numbers on command. Or if not random numbers, then at least numbers that could pass for random.

Enter encryption. Encryption is a mathematical way of garbling a message so that it can only be read by people who know the “secret key”.

Here’s an example. We’re going to use a Vigenere Cipher, one of many existing encryption methods. If you’ve got a computer handy, navigate to http://planetcalc.com/2468/ and scroll down until you see the following screen:

 

Become a subscriber and get access to the rest of this article. Plus all our magazine articles.

Stories also include numerous links to help parents, kids, and teachers learn more. Get access today at just $15 per year!

Subscribe Today!

Also In The February 2017 Issue

This cryptography method is based on the fact some tasks are relatively easy to do, but extremely difficult to undo.

There's a way to find out if your online passwords have been stolen, and how to prevent it.

Racket is a fun and easy programming language to learn because it's all about creating colors and shapes as you learn.

Networks are a mostly hidden but critical part of the internet.

Surveillance cameras, satellites, RFID tags, and social media activities all create unique digital footprints.

Developers deal with common problems in their work. Here’s are a few problems and how to overcome them.

Programmers use libraries but instead of books they create and share code, often for free, to help solve common problems.

These cards are a fun way to learn Scratch, look up how to do things, and make applications.

Another mysterious four-letter acronym that helps secure information online.

Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson not only helped make history, they are part of a long line of women in computing

It's almost time to think about summer tech camps if your kids are interested. Here are a few questions to ask.

Your web browser knows (and tells) a lot more about you than you might realize.

When you pick a programming language to learn first, it helps to figure out what software you want to create.

This odd acronym offers security protection beyond your password. Here are a few examples of how 2FA works.

Links from the bottom of all the February 2017 articles, collected in one place for you to print, share, or bookmark.

Interesting stories about computer science, software programming, and technology for February 2017.