Week 1 - Solution: The Writing on the Wall

How did it go this week? Did you enjoy the first SQ Pow! puzzle, The Writing on the Wall? Did you figure out what the writing on the wall is??? If you're still working on it, STOP HERE! Spoiler Alert: We WILL discuss the solution to the puzzle in this post, so if you don't want to see it now, come back later!

The cipher used here is one of the Pigpen ciphers, also known as Tic-Tac-Toe. There are several different versions that have been around for centuries, maybe even longer! During the American colonial period, some people even put Pigpen messages on their gravestones. Back then, Pigpen ciphers were well-known enough that when George Washington borrowed Pigpen symbols to make two secret alphabets, he made sure to break the pattern in both cases.

So how do you solve this specific cipher? You can download the one-page solution here:


And you can see one of our Silverquicken students, nicknamed "BJK Goat", solve it in this video, complete with mistakes and self-corrections. (This was completely un-scripted, so you'll see how a real 10 year-old thinks through a cipher like this!)

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The message itself gives a shout-out to the Lord of the Rings. A similar riddle appears on the Elven Door of Moria. Punctuation matters! You can read the ending of our message in two ways: Speak the word, friends (as in “just say the word”) or Speak the word “friends.” One of those ways awakens the scrolls of Silverquicken, calling them forward to defend the School when danger arises. (Which one is it? Maybe a future puzzle will reveal that...)

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