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Cyber Innovation Center helps learning take flight in California

The Cyber Innovation Center’s National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center (NICERC) has spread to the West Coast.

This past Wednesday, NICERC partnered with California State University at San Bernardino, and Girls Scouts of San Gorgonio to bring a collaborative STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and cyber experience to middle and high school girls from the San Bernardino area.

“Cyber Pathways” was designed to show 300 female students and underrepresented minorities the numerous possibilities in the fields of engineering and cyber security. The event’s focus on females was to help increase the number of women pursuing science-related fields, including cyber security.

“Thousands of cyber security jobs go unfilled every day so it’s imperative we build a cyber workforce for the future by engaging students and teachers early and often,” shared Kevin Nolten, NICERC’s Academic Outreach Coordinator. “Our programs build a strong STEM foundation while integrating a cyber context.”

Featured at the event was NICERC’s STEM: Explore, Discover, Apply (STEM EDA) curriculum. The modular nature of STEM EDA provides the ultimate flexibility in the classroom. The curriculum can be incorporated into an existing class, implemented as a standalone course, or provided as an afterschool program. In San Bernardino, students used the engineering design process to explore forces related to aircrafts. Using this knowledge, teams designed, built, and tested glider airplanes powered by slingshots, and studied how the components of design affected the gliders’ flight. The full Glider module examines factors including time in the air, distance, and accuracy.

Dr. Krystal Corbett, NICERC’s Director of Curriculum noted, “STEM EDA modules are a great way to engage students while providing teachers with resources to create a truly innovative, integrated, and relative learning environment in their classrooms.”

In addition to working with the STEM EDA Glider module, the students also experienced a flying drone demonstration and participated in a cyber obstacle course where they learned how to create secure passwords to withstand a sophisticated hacker program.

While in San Bernardino, the NICERC curriculum team also hosted a STEM EDA teacher workshop on California State University’s campus. Thirty-three middle school teachers from the San Bernardino area were guided through multiple STEM EDA modules. Those who attended the workshop gained access to the STEM EDA curriculum to implement in their classrooms after the new year. NICERC will host similar workshops across the country in the next nine months. Through these efforts, professional development will be provided to over 1,500 teachers.

NICERC curricula and professional development opportunities are being implemented nationwide through a grant with the Department of Homeland Security. To learn more about STEM EDA and other NICERC curricula, please visit www.NICERC.org.

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