Unique camp gives local students jump start on emerging technology

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AUGUSTA, Ga. — As Augusta prepares to become the nation’s Cyber Command center, students from across the area got a sneak peek at the future at a unique camp hosted by Augusta University on Friday.

“The students are so excited,” said Alicia Stephenson, a camp counselor for “Kids University”. It was the week-long “Kids University” participants that were given the opportunity to take part in GenCyber camp Friday morning.

“Our eventual goal is that they’ll pursue a career in cyber,” said Jennifer Armstrong, Instruction Resource Center Manager at Augusta University.

Teachers from across the area spent this week at the camp learning all aspects of teaching cyber skills, then practiced what they’d learned by teaching the students from “Kids University“.

“All of our activities are about coding, cryptography and all various topics that are involved in cyber,” Armstrong said.

“We’re doing engineering and doing stuff with computers and seeing how computers work,” said Abbie Townley, who will enter 7th grade at Riverside Middle School this fall.

Stallings Island Middle School 8th grader Katelyn Surrao agreed: “It’s teaching you computer programming and all of that.”

 “They’ve enjoyed all the activities,” said Stephenson. “You can watch the reaction on their faces when they complete the different tasks and they’re just having a blast.”

And while camp is coming to an end, organizers hope it’s just the beginning for these students.

“We’re just inspiring them and introducing them to coding so that hopefully when they got back to school, or even during the summer, that they will be piquing their interest,” said Armstrong.

“I hope it gives them a passion for careers they haven’t thought about before and how to use technology differently than they do already,” added Stephenson.

The GenCyber camp is funded through a grant from the National Security Agency with the National Science Foundation. This is the second year Augusta University has taken part.

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