Cyber Safety Workshop Empowers Middle School Girls
On Saturday, March 2, 2013, over sixty middle school girls gathered at the University of Maryland to participate in a workshop on cybersafety and cybersecurity organized by the Maryland Cybersecurity Center. The students came with a curiosity about the technology that they use everyday, and they left with newfound knowledge of the importance of cybersecurity and a passion for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields.
"The goal for this workshop is to provide girls with the skills and knowledge to help them to feel confident in their use of technology,” said Cristin Caparotta, Coordinator of the Cyber Safety Workshop and Graduate Assistant at the Maryland Cybersecurity Center. “We hope that by presenting activities that allow the girls to problem solve and work together, they will feel empowered and ready to pursue STEM fields."
Throughout the day, the girls worked together on hands-on, interactive activities led by enthusiastic UMD students. Workshop participants were excited to use logic, creativity, and persistence to complete a lock-picking exercise using aluminum cans and a combination lock. The tangible activity provided inspiration for a motivational conversation about passwords and defense. The participants also learned how to create a strong password for email accounts and websites and how to be safe online.
Guest speaker Rose Kirby, an employee at Lunarline, shared her passion for computer science and cybersecurity with the participants and encouraged them to challenge the gender stereotypes and gender norms facing women who are studying the STEM fields. Kirby left the girls with a powerful message to continue to ask questions, to explore new possibilities, and to never stop learning.
The participants were eager to share their newfound knowledge and cyber-skills with friends and family in a special ceremony at the end of the day. Parents were impressed with the depth of understanding that their children acquired in a short period of time.
”We recognize the importance of stimulating early interest in the field of cybersecurity, and providing students with the knowledge and preparation to be successful in their future post-secondary studies and eventual career,” said Dr. Michel Cukier, Associate Director for Education of the Maryland Cybersecurity Center and Associate Professor of Reliability Engineering.
Future events for middle school and high school students can be found at http://www.cyber.umd.edu/education.
March 5, 2013