Last summer was eye opening for me. My nephew was a senior in high school and starting the college application process. I listened and took mental notes as my sister updated me on their process of planning for college in the fall. This included making college visits, filling out applications, completing the financial aid process and of course college decisions. To say this process seemed overwhelming was an understatement!
College admissions may seem like a ways off, my oldest son is a high school sophomore, but I'm a firm believer in educating yourself early. I began to get informed and wanted to share some things that have helped me along the way:
This Saturday, 1NTERRUPT, will be hosting a free hands-on cyber security program for students throughout Massachusetts, ages 14-22, on the campus of Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Yesterday, I had the privilege of chatting with Marc Blackmer the founder of 1NTERRUPT, the Worcester based non-profit organization with a passionate all-volunteer team of IT and cyber security professionals and educators. Their goal is to demystify and make cyber security education more accessible. This is the fourth year this event will be held in Worcester, growing from 16 students in the first year to reaching full capacity of 70 students this year. Ryan Canuel, co-founder and CEO, of Petricore Games will be the key note speaker at the event.
1NTERRUPT is not just another day of school, students are introduced to the concepts of cyber security through real-world challenges from the perspective a white-hat hacker. The first part of the day will focus on ethics, web development, network security and hardware. The second part of the day, teams will be forged where students work together in break out sessions and focus on real world problem solving. The students will complete a treasure hunt where they will need to overcome a series of difficult technical hurdles. It is important to remember the quote from Albert Einstein "We can not solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them". Students will work together using offensive techniques in a simulated environment to defeat the bad guys that hacked into the network and take back control.
Want to see in more detail what the program is about? Check out the YouTube video from the 2015 event.
STEM Saturdays are another way to get some great exposure to different areas in the Science, Technology, Engineering & Math fields. There are many free programs offered at local area libraries and colleges (some do charge a fee as well).
Last weekend, we enjoyed a wonderful presentation at MIT Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington. Welcome to the Jungle was a presentation on life in the Jungle with a focus on Chimpanzees. The presentation included real life experiences of a biologist whom studies Chimpanzees in their natural habitat. We learned how to make a hoot calls, how to identify chimpanzees from each other, the similarities with humans, the jungle environment, and that you need be careful when using a machete to cut a path because the if you cut the wrong branch a cobra might just drop on you! The STEM Saturday programs at Lincoln Laboratories are free and are open to those ages 5-17, though I find the presentations we have been to seem to be geared towards elementary and early middle school. The program is run every two months during the school year and pre-registration is required.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester offers a STEM Saturdays program for middle school students which is held once a month from November - April. The classes are half day and there is a cost of $180. Parents are required to attend and there are programs geared towards them while their students work on hands-on projects. I previously attended presentations on admissions, financial aid, engineering and speaker sessions.
If you're luck enough to live in one of the towns (Boston, Cambridge or Lawrence) that are supported by MIT's SEED Academy they offer a great opportunity for 7th through 10th graders. This free program offers an opportunity to explore engineering fields.
Don't forget to check out your local libraries as many also offer STEM programs as well!
Debbi - Proud mom of two beautiful boys and an IT Professional.