AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF)- This week, Augusta University is hosting a camp for kids that could prepare them for a future career.
It’s called VICEROY Kids Camp, and it’s geared towards children with an interest in cybersecurity.
The idea is to create more interest in cyber security careers as well as teach kids to protect themselves from hackers.
STEM education has dominated in schools for years. With more than 700,000 cybersecurity jobs open right now, camp organizers want to cultivated children’s interest early.
“We’re trying to bring awareness to even younger kids, so that by the time they get to high school and college, they already have a little bit of background in computer sciences and cyber security,” explained Dr. Michael Nowatkowski, an AU Professor and the camp’s director.
Nowatkowski told NewsChannel 6 that VICEROY Kids Camp is an extension of AU’s VICEROY Program.
“And what it tries to do is make college graduates more work ready for department of defense roles related to cyber security,” he said.
This is the second year for the Kids Camp. Campers are learning things like how to spot phishing and ransomeware attempts and how to keep from becoming a victim to hackers.
It’s 8th grade camper, Corinna Pope’s first year in the camp and she thinks she’s learning a lot.
“We did lots of introduction like what is coding, safety online, and things like that- cyber security. Then we did lots of activities like how to explain- like how to put together a puzzle, things like that,” she said.
Pope explained that while she hasn’t been in camp long, she already has a favorite activity.
“We actually currently working on coding a micro bit and that is very fun,” smiled Pope.
“What’s a micro bit?” asked NewsChannel 6’s Kim Vickers.
“It’s like a small piece of, like metal, I guess, that you can code to do lots of things. Right now we’re making faces. So you can make a smiley face or like a heart or something. And it lights up on the little piece- chip,” she explained.
Last year the program had 40 campers and this year they expanded to 75. Nowatkowski said that so far the response has been great.
“The parents are really appreciative that they’re able to send their kids here. We don’t charge for the camp, so that also makes it a little more attractive. So the kids always seem to enjoy it also. They have big smiles and they’re ready to come back the next day and learn more.
Camp registration is closed for this year, but information will be sent home with all 4th through 8th grade CSRA students at the end of the upcoming school year.
Photojournalist: Will Baker.