Make Matt's Coder/Decoder

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In this Cyberchase activity, learners make decoders to send and receive secret messages. Learners make the device out of two 8-ounce cups and two code strips. Then, they use it to decode Hacker's secret message.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per student

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 11

Resource Type:


Materials List (per student)

  • Two 8-ounce paper or Styrofoam cups (must be 3-inch diameter across the top)
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Paper strips


  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
    • Representation
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Problem Solving

Informal Categories

  • Crime Science
  • Toys


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, THIRTEEN, 2011

Funding Sources:

  • National Science Foundation
  • Northrop Grumman Corporation
  • Ernst & Young LLP
  • PBS
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting
  • The Volckhausen Family