In a world dominated by technology, Clarke students are leading the information curve through a new competition program that focuses on global cyber security.
Through the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot program, Clarke Schools is entering their second year of the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition. The CyberPatriot program was designed to inspire students from middle school and high school through twelfth grade in pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) skills and looking at cybersecurity and other sciences for career possibilities. By participating in this competition, students have the opportunity to learn a variety of skills ranging from problem-solving to identifying technological vulnerabilities in a real-world scenario. Clarke currently has three teams that compete, with the only two Middle School teams in Iowa.
Cyber Security is a growing concern around the world and there are currently far more jobs available than there are qualified applicants,” said Mary Murphy, Tech Coach for Clarke Schools. “By introducing students to the real-life applications of cyber security, we hope to spark an interest as a potential career path.”
The competition consists of virtual “images” that mimic real operating systems. Students work with their technical mentor, Miles Murphy, who guides them through the steps of identifying potential security breaches. Teams consist of up to six members who work together toward a common goal, learning from each other along the way. During competition, the teams will be given a virtual operating system that they must find security flaws and make corrections while keeping other computer functions such as email working. The state of Iowa has a total of thirty teams registered. In only the second year of the program, the Clarke high school team placed 3rd out of 17 teams from across Iowa.
We’re really proud of these kids and the way they’ve absorbed the information and have developed a passion for the work. They take the security measures they’ve learned home to their families and to their friends, spreading safety information in the real world,” said Miles Murphy, the Cyber Warriors mentor. “They’ve embraced the ethics of the program as well as the skills and have really learned how to work as a team, guiding each other to solutions.”
The CyberPatriot program affords students around the world the chance to learn about cyber security and the potential applications and job opportunities available in real life. Teams in high-poverty areas and all-female teams are able to participate at no charge to encourage participation by kids who might not have the means otherwise. Students must meet certain requirements for participation, including behavioral and academic markers.
After I saw the presentation about the program and all the opportunities that can help me in the future, I knew I wanted to join,” said Lily Arnold, a member of the middle school girls’ team. “I’ve gotten to learn a lot of skills that I wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise.”
All teams will get to show off what they’ve learned during their next competition on Friday, December 7th. Teams are scored on a variety of skills, earning points when they find and fix a flaw or losing points for actions that make the system less secure. All scoring is done through the CyperPatriot system which remotely monitors how teams solve their system’s vulnerabilities.