On September 21st and 22nd, K-12 teachers from across the state gathered at the University of Indiana for the second annual “Flipping the Switch” Educators Conference. This conference had a strong focus on cybersecurity education due to Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) work on the implementation of new cybersecurity initiatives put forward by General Assembly of Indiana. Cybersecurity education sessions were supplemented with additional sessions on educational tools and techniques for teaching computing to K-12 students. Security & Privacy in Informatics, Computing, and Engineering (SPICE) was present for a second year in a row to teach cybersecurity education centered on Capture the Flag and manipulative class tools.
SPICE’s dedication to educational outreach in the field of security and privacy in informatics, computing, and engineering is well reflected in its efforts to support K-12 educators. On both days, SPICE Program manager Joshua Streiff led a series of sessions beginning with the use of manipulative cryptographic tools and ending with interactive Capture the Flag (CTF) gameplay. In the first session, attendees had to figure out simple encrypted messages without the assistance of any tools. As the session progressed, more complex messages were introduced and participants were given cryptographic wheels to use to decode entertaining messages. As an example, educators were given a message in alien script asking them to figure out why the aliens stole the farmer’s cow “Bessie” and how they could help get her back. In another task educators learned about hacking through defeating a locked chest.
“Manipulatives create educational experiences that are formative to young students,” Mr Streiff explains,
“Young students remember the time they used a code wheel to break a message or used tools to defeat a physical lock. Then we demonstrate how those experiences apply to real world cybersecurity problems from defending critical infrastructure to election security so students understand that their youthful fun could be their adulthood careers.”
Michele Roberts, Director of Computing Outreach at IU, was also at the conference co-leading the introductory session and facilitating other sessions related to age appropriate computer networking education for students. In the last year, her work has focused on bringing state educators the best in cybersecurity materials and educational opportunities. Such opportunities included a CTF workshop last spring for K8-12 students, the bringing hundreds of educators from the Luddy Hall for educational sessions during 2018’s Pathfinder program, and our continuing support for educators statewide.
SPICE has a world class interdisciplinary faculty dedicated to creating the next generation of cyber defenders, research investigators, and well informed policy makers.
SPICE created Indiana University’s first Cyberdefense Competition course and team, sponsors the Cybersecurity Club at IU, and has graduate degrees and certificates as well as undergraduate cognates in security informatics and computer science.