Cybersecurity Lessons for Seventh Graders

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Rocky Point Middle School students have been practicing and applying cybersecurity knowledge and skills learned as part of a National Science Foundation grant for middle schoolers. Teacher Ms. Dorothy Burns developed a cybersecurity module in which students in her seventh grade Information Technology Literacy course work to encrypt and decrypt messages. They used Caesar ciphers to gain a deeper understanding of encryption. This type of cipher substitution forms the foundation of more complex encryption methods. Students have also used websites and online resources to explore and test password security and investigate the frequency of global cybersecurity attacks. “These learning experiences have provided insight into how computer encryption relates to malware, ransomware and various other cybersecurity threats,” the district’s director of math, science and technology, Mr. Aaron Factor, said. “Students are looking forward to continuing to build on these activities to develop additional 21st-century skills.”