By Isabel P.
Senior Girl Reporter
How do you keep girls coming back to GenCyber each year?
You don’t just review old techniques; rather, you build upon the existing foundation and introduce new ones!
That’s where the GenCyber Advanced Track comes in. This summer I once again had the opportunity to participate in GenCyber 2016. According to the official site, the GenCyber program provides, “summer cybersecurity camp experiences for students and teachers at the K-12 level. The goals of the program are to help all students understand correct and safe on-line behavior, increase diversity and interest in cybersecurity and careers in the cybersecurity workforce of the Nation.”
This year I was able to apply for the Advanced Track. The advanced track consisted of girls who had participated in GenCyber the previous year and allows them to continue learning cybersecurity techniques by way of an extension of last year’s courses. For example, in 2015 we received Raspberry Pi’s (single-board computers) that we built and programmed. This year we learned how to make a video game and a website using the device.
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We learned how to decode messages last year, but not to the point of understanding which exact decoder to use. When we continued learning about decoders, it felt amazing. Learning these techniques made me actually consider a career in cybersecurity or web design. I found something that could quite possibly be for me. I might enjoy doing this as an actual career in the future. The Advanced Track gave all the older girls an opportunity to experience something unique to the younger ones.
Advanced Track participants also spent the night at Cal State University San Bernardino this year. We slept in the Student Union where all the events happen. During the overnight experience we built mazes that would help us put our decoding skills to the test. Inside the completed maze were riddles that we had to solve. Girls had to solve the code with a Caesar cypher (a simple encryption method that substitutes a letter with another one further down the alphabet) that gave us a number to open a safe with. Doing this made me feel like an actual CSI agent! It was easy to imagine myself, decoding a secret message that I’d found in a car of a victim. I immediately knew what decoder to use. I was so excited when we figured it out.
I had a smile so wide that I couldn’t stop. I liked the idea of having an Advanced Track for older girls. It allowed us to strengthen old skills, gain new skills, and use them in the future.