Science Explorations

Science Explorations is a club that plans four Friday afternoon camps each semester (2 hours each) for girls in grades 3 to 6 designed to generate interest in STEM fields. They invite other student organizations to come present about their club and assist the girls in science based activities. Bit to Byte plans to engage a younger generation with computer science, particularly cryptography, in a fun and creative way. Bit to Byte contacted science explorations to book their camp for a day. Bit to Byte ran a cryptography workshop split into three parts. First was the introduction of who Bit to Byte is and how we are sponsored by Dash. The first section of the workshop was an introduction of cryptography, concentrating on different types of ciphers and how to use logic to break them. This finished with a ciphering challenge where students ciphered a piece of text given to them using an alpha-numeric cipher and traded with a partner and then tried to break the cipher. The second section of the workshop was an introduction to blockchain technology and how it uses cryptography and how it can be applied as a money like Dash or as a decentralized data storage tool. The blockchain segment finished with a blockchain trivia game where each team go to add a block to their chain when they got a question right, and could answer another question after they computed the hash of their block using a simple hash function written on the board. The third section of the workshop was an introduction to cybersecurity and was focused less on technical skill and more of awareness of how to stay safe online and not to give out passwords or sensitive information. This section finished with a mafia style cybersecurity game where the kids were split into three groups, a bank, a school, and a laboratory. In each group students drew makeshift cards to see what their roles were, such as science teacher, researcher, manager… In each group one student was the hacker, and the leader of each group would ask all their group members questions in order to determine who was the hacker.

Science Explorations

By: Admin Setwise

Team:

Tools/Materials

  • 15 - Pens and Paper

Milestone 1:

Journal:

Ciphering examples could have been a little clearer, writing on board was a little sloppy and difficult to read at times. Students seemed very interested, content was an appropriate difficulty level. Ciphering challenge was a huge hit, students got competitive with it, they seem to enjoy puzzles. Initial ciphering on sample text took most of the time, a lot longer than expected. This section took close to an hour instead of the anticipated half hour. Blockchain concepts need to be made more approachable, students seemed engaged in the trivia, and most questions were answered correctly, but in the future I would suggest making sure the idea of what is a blockchain and what is the function of a block are well established with concrete tangible demonstrations before continuing into specifics. Overall students seemed to enjoy this section, and all were able to compute the hash value of their “blocks” correctly (hash function was simply previous hash plus the number corresponding to first letter of the answer, to represent how a real blockchain hash function takes the hash of the previous block and combines it with information about the current block). Although less technical and challenging than the first two sections, the students seemed really excited to have a more creative part, and got very involved in their fake stories about the jobs they were assigned, although the game had no way for the leader to figure out who the hacker was. Promising but needs heavy revision. They remembered not to give out information to strangers and a few key words about cyber threats such as blagging. This was probably the most engaging activity for the students.

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