With the school year ending in May, most high school teachers and students are enjoying a well-deserved summer vacation pool-side, on beaches, or in the mountains. However, over 30 teachers and 90 students from high schools across the region have spent the beginning of their summer break in the world of cyberspace at the 7th annual Cyber Discovery camp at Louisiana Tech University. This program is hosted by the Cyber Innovation Center’s National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center (NICERC) and is being implemented nationwide through a grant with the Department of Homeland Security.
Cyber Discovery is best described as a catalytic event for engaging students and teachers in the world of cyberspace by covering its relative ethical and social issues, applications, vulnerabilities, and security. The program provides an interdisciplinary experience for the participants by showing the connections between history, engineering, mathematics, political science, and computer science within today’s social context and current technologies.
Lessons come in the form of hands-on engineering and computer science labs, a cryptographic treasure hunt, creative writing assignments, cyber film sessions, and collaborative team discussions. These experiences culminate in a final cyber challenge at the end of each camp week. Cyber Discovery is led by NICERC Subject Matter Experts and university faculty from Louisiana Tech University.
“Cyber Discovery has been recognized as a national model for teacher professional development and for engaging students in meaningful and academically rich experiences through cyber,” said Dr. Galen Turner, NICERC Chief Academic Officer. “This year we are pleased to host two one-week sessions of Cyber Discovery at Louisiana Tech University while also continuing to roll-out the program to other states. University partners in Baltimore, Portland, and Arkansas will host Cyber Discovery on their campuses this summer, and additional university partners are observing Cyber Discovery this year in preparation for next year.”
Participating high schools for the two sessions of Cyber Discovery at Louisiana Tech University included Airline, Beekman Charter, Benton, Bossier, Catholic, The Dunham School, El Dorado, Evangel Christian Academy, Haughton, Logansport, New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy, North Caddo, Parkway, Ruston, St. Joseph’s, and West Monroe.
While the students benefit from the challenges and camp curricula, a strong emphasis is placed on the participating high school teachers. Before arriving at Cyber Discovery, teachers attended two professional development workshops that provided them with the opportunity to gain insight into the disciplinary threads Cyber Discovery showcases, network with higher education professors at Louisiana Tech University, and acquire the hands-on experience they would need to lead their teams through each event challenge.
At the end of first session of Cyber Discovery, Airline High School emerged as the first place winner, followed by Catholic High School in second place. At the second session of Cyber Discovery, St. Joseph’s Academy and Haughton High School took home first and second place, respectively. Each first place team was awarded $1,250 while the second place winners earned awards of $750.