New publications help CREDC reach next generation of cybersecurity researchers
When most kids leave middle school, they have not yet decided what they want their career to be, but they have thought about what they do not want to do. The Cyber Resilient Energy Delivery Consortium (CREDC) is working to keep computer science and computer engineering off the latter list with a new series of STEM-related activity books geared for ages 10 and up.
“We target middle schoolers with our programs because they are still open to new ideas,” said Jana Sebestik, Assistant Director of STEM Curriculum Design at the Office of Math, Science and Technology Education (MSTE) and CREDC Education team leader. “We try to create enthusiasm for keeping the doors open. Don’t quit learning about science. Don’t quit learning math so these options are available to you later.”
The latest CREDC Education project is a series of activity books with a focus on engineering and coding. Each book in the Power Park series has 10-20 hours of activities that build on each other, offering opportunities for exploration that challenge young designers to problem-solve and think creatively and critically.
“A lot of the engineering project kits currently available for purchase are pretty step-by-step: follow these instructions and make this,” said Sebestik. “We want to offer a challenge that isn’t so straight forward as Step 1, Step 2, Step 3. What we want to do is encourage young people to look at problems and think about how to solve them.”
The first book, “Explore a Power Park: Paper Circuits,” is will be available online in mid-September from National 4-H Council. Students working through this book will build conductive tape and LED circuits, learn about power sources, and light up a neighborhood. There are also activities focused on alternative power sources and how simple circuits relate to larger power grids.
“CREDC is happy to sponsor this type of publication,” said David Nicol, CREDC principal investigator and director of the Information Trust Institute. “It is vital that we attract the attention of and engage with what will be a future generation of thinkers and problem-solvers in cyber-security.”
“Paper Circuits” is just the beginning of the Power Park series. A second and third book are in the works. These go beyond circuits to include programming small microcontrollers and understanding/creating a more complex power system. The books are part of the peer-reviewed National 4-H curriculum library and will be available to anyone for purchase at Shop 4-H. There is also an option to buy a kit containing all the necessary materials to complete the activities.