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As of Term 1, 2012, your online resources for Comet, Challenge and Explore will no longer be accompanied by printed magazines. Term 4, 2011 will be our last issue. A huge thanks to all who have used, enjoyed and produced Magazines. Please feel free to continue using this site to access teachers’ notes, articles and more.

2011 Topic Guide

Click here to download the 2011 topic guide.

I Spy

Shhh, this issue is top secret! Don’t tell anyone that we’re going to interview real-life detectives, spies, secret agents, code breakers, forensic experts and even dog detectives. We also sleuth out the latest in spy gadgets and technology for surveillance.


Spies in movies always seem to live glamorous lives. They get to swan around in expensive outfits, drive fast cars and hang out in exotic locations. But is this the case for real spies? We meet some secret agents who led interesting lives – at least for some of the time...

Konon Molody

Konon Molody was a Soviet spy in London during the Cold War. His spy training began when he was just 11 years old. His aunt took him from his home in Moscow, Russia to California, where he learned how to dress, act and speak like an American. After five years he returned to the Soviet Union to continue his training.

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Eyes in the Sky

Did you know that right now a spy satellite might be passing overhead about 300 kilometres above you? While Australia doesn’t have any of its own, countries such as Japan, Russia, Israel and the US all have specially equipped reconnaissance satellites snooping in the skies above.

Spy satellites have been used for about 50 years by governments, originally mainly to see images of buildings and roads. However, now they can also listen in to secret conversations far below.

In fact, in November 2010 the US launched the largest spy satellite ever known. A huge Delta IV rocket carried the satellite known only as USA-223 into a high orbit. NASA won’t say much about it but it’s thought to have an antenna diameter of 100 metres for listening in on important electronic signals.

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Secret Gadgets

Have you ever wanted to try out some of the awesome gadgets that secret agents use in movies and books? Maybe Maxwell Smart’s shoe phone or the amazing watch with tracking devices from Spy Kids? Or how about a spycam that lets you see around corners. These gadgets may seem far-fetched but they are based on the tools and gadgets used by real secret agents over the years.

For hundreds of years, spies had to make do with simple tools for gathering or sending information. They wrote secrets in invisible ink, or sent messages back to base by carrier pigeon. It wasn’t until last century that their tools became more hi-tech.

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Cyber Sleuths

There are bold new criminals on the block and they can lurk anywhere. You can’t see them but these lawbreakers are very real. They’re called cyber criminals.

Cyber criminals operate on the Internet. Some hack into other people’s computers and pretend to be you, others try to trick you into giving out your bank account details and some hang out on social networking sites, trying to make friends with kids.

But cyber-smart cops are also out there in cyberspace. They’re on the job, tracking down the bad guys.

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Cracking Codes

XZM BLF FMWVIHGZMW GSRH HVMGVMXV – it may look like a foreign language or simply nonsense but these letters are an encoded message. Read on to find out what it says.

Codes have been used for centuries to keep information secret. Codes replace one word with another or mix the letters up. They may also use symbols instead of letters or numbers.

The Roman emperor Julius Caesar used a very simple code by moving each letter of the alphabet along three letters, so A=D, B=E, C=F and so on. In his code, ‘hello’ is ‘ebiil’.

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