Monday, November 7, 2011

SpyOps: Secret Agent Training Library Program

Date: November 2, 2011
Time: 1900 hours

Your Mission, if you choose to accept it: create a secret agent program for the teens at a small Indiana public library.

Objective: create an event that will intrigue and entertain the teens for two hours.


On Wednesday, November 2, 2011, I presented a library program to 10 teen Recruits between the ages of 13 and 18. The program involved three tasks: code breaking, marksmanship, and agility. The recruits were asked to crack two ciphers (a Caesar Cipher, or Shift Cipher, and a Book Cipher), attempt to hit the bullseye with one of six shots, and complete a laser maze. If all three tasks were completed, the Recruits would receive Special Agent status.

Code Breaking:
Recruits diligently attempting to crack the codes. Recruit, Code Name Halo, works on Book Cipher.
The first cipher, once cracked, would lead the recruits to a book title. That book would then be used in solving the second cipher. The revealed passphrase would allow the recruit to move on to the second task.

Recruit, Code Name Valiant, proving her skills in marksmanship.
Recruits utilize a 6-shooter NERF gun with suction cup ammo to hit the bullseye of a small target approximately 5-6 feet distant. Recruits required to get task checked off by Agent-In-Charge before moving on to Agility Training.

Laser Maze
Recruits awaiting their turn at the maze.
Recruit, Code Name Hawkeye, attempts to complete the maze.
The laser maze is used to test the Recruits' agility. The maze is made up of yarn with bells tied to each end. If a Recruit touches one of the "lasers" the bell will sound, alerting the Agent-In-Charge. The Recruit was then required to start the task over. To complete the task, the Recruit must cross the maze and return again without touching the lasers. Once this third task was completed, the Recruits would have the Agent-In-Charge sign off on their promotion to Special Agent.

Once the Recruits had completed their Mission and received their promotions, they were permitted to improve their skills by repeating the challenges. Several of the Recruits chose to do this, some three or four times. Also, once all Recruits had completed their tasks, some Recruits chose to test their skills against each other, participating in several challenges designed by the Recruits, particularly in regards to the laser maze (see below).

End Result:

Mission: Accomplished


  1. I know you did this program awhile ago but I plan on using something similar to this and was wondering what you used to keep the yarn attached to the wall? Is it just tape?

    1. I did use regular tape, though it honestly wasn't strong enough. I'd recommend a stronger tape that won't hurt your walls, maybe even painters tape.

  2. Thanks for the idea! I had my program yesterday and it was a huge success. I used the painters tape like you suggested and then placed duct tape over top of that to better secure it but not damage the walls in our new building. Also I took the marksmanship test idea and combined it with the maze placing targets to shoot throughout.

  3. That sounds awesome! Can you link to some pictures?

  4. They're posted to the library's Facebook page. They really had a fun time.

  5. These are great! Looks like they had a good time :)