Future computer scientists get real world experience at GenCyber Camps for Girls at ECCC

Bianca Moorman / The Meridian Star

Emma Vaughn and Brooklyn Chisholm, both 10, work with robotics during the GenCyber Camps for Girls at East Central Community College. 

DECATUR – When she grows up, Brooklyn Chisholm wants to be a cryptographer.

“So you can be strong and safe on the internet,” said the 10-year-old, one of many young girls participating in a GenCyber Camps for Girls at East Central Community College in Decatur.

The camp, open to girls in grades 3-5, was made possible through a grant from the National Security Agency and National Science Participants learned computer coding, robotics, cybersecurity and how to deal with cyber bullying.

This is the second year the camp has been held, said Ken Ethridge, a computer science instructor at ECCC and the Cyber Warriors GenCyber program director. He said its main purpose is to teach girls about cybersecurity, while keeping them interested in computer science.

According to the National Center for Women in Technology, women earn 57 percent of all undergraduate college degrees, but only 18 percent of all undergraduate degrees in computer and information sciences.

“We are hurting for female computer science majors,” Ethridge said. “That is one of my drives for this program…I want to recruit them at an age that says that they can only be a nurse or a teacher.”

Breshea Donald, a recent ECCC computer science graduate and a mentor during the camp, said she wished a camp like this was available to her when she was growing up. She said she didn’t learn about computer science until she got to college.

“I think it is good that we are starting the girls off with learning with cybersecurity” Donald said. ‘They can tell you they are getting real-life experience. ”

Faith Curry, a recent elementary education graduate at ECCC, served as a mentor during the camp. She hopes to give her students the opportunity to learn more about computer science.

“I wish it was around (when I was young), because I would have buckled down and gotten into the math,” Curry said.

The camps are being held through June 28 at the ECCC campus in Decatur, Newton Municipal Schools and the Louisville School District.

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