NICERC Partners with the Girl Scouts to Create New STEM Badges

In 2017, Girl Scouts of the USA reached out to NICERC, the academic division of the Cyber Innovation Center, to develop 18 Cybersecurity Badges. These 18 badges would consist of three badges for each of the six levels of the Girl Scouts: Daisy, Brownie, Junior, Cadette, Senior, and Ambassador. The three badges were released this year and they are for Cybersecurity Basics, Cybersecurity Safeguards, and Cybersecurity Investigator.

So, why was NICERC chosen?

“Several people mentioned NICERC because of their expertise in curriculum development, as well as their ability to create hands-on activities that really engage students,” Suzanne Harper, STEM Strategy Lead at Girl Scouts of the USA said. “That background has been key to the success of these programs.”

Their expertise in K-12 Cybersecurity Education and their national reputation among teachers, school districts and state departments of education across the country, made them the perfect people to create these badges.

“The K-12 cybersecurity education programs being developed here in Bossier Parish are being replicated nationwide,” Kevin Director of Academic Outreach at the Cyber Innovation Center and National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center (NICERC) said. “Whether that is inside the classroom with content and curriculum, or whether it is a part of community organizations such as the Girl Scouts, I am proud that the work that is being done at the CIC and NICERC is making a positive impact on the future workforce of America.”

The NICERC curriculum team, in conjunction with the Girl Scouts and Palo Alto Networks, worked on
these patches for over a year and half.

”We thought they (the badges) were great, but we really wanted to know what the girls thought,” Harper said. “We tested the activities with girls, who gave us great feedback and the best part was that they reported that the program was fun and exciting — and that they learned a lot.”

On July 29, 2019, an additional event was held by IBM at Bossier Parish Community College for 7th and 8th grade girls in the Ark-La-Tex region. During this day, there were sessions held that helped them start learning the basics of computer math, codes and computer safety. Within these sessions, they also learned important information about how computers are connected, operated, and how they count.

“The computer counts differently than we do,” Chris Rondeau Director of Security, Division on Information Technology, Engineering and Mathematics at Bossier Parish Community College said. “We count one, two, three, four but the computer counts zero, one, two, three, four.”

They learned how computers are connected and how to stay protected and safe with all things cyber. After the day was completed, 55 girls earned a total of 165 badges. Governor John Bel Edwards was there to congratulate them for their hard work. In addition, representatives from the Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency were present to acknowledge the newly badged Girl Scouts.

Cyber innovation continues to grow in the Bossier area. During the same time frame as the ‘Badge in a Day’ Girl Scout sessions, the Community College Cyber Summit (3CS) was gearing up with two days of pre-workshops for the conference.

At this conference there were 110 different presenters that helped the 500+ attendees that came to the area. These sessions were on cryptology, individual secure scripting, IBM QRader, individual paper development (how to write grants) and much more given by experts in the cyber field.

“It is a neat opportunity to showcase what we have,” Rondeau said. “It helps put BPCC on the map so we can show what we are doing in cyber security and why we want people to be working with us.”

BPCC and NICERC, which are a part of the National Cyber Research Park in Bossier, are promoting Northwest Louisiana’s cyber-security excellence to the world. Now, a piece of Bossier can be seen throughout the United States on every Girl Scout who has earned her Cybersecurity Badge.

Photos courtesy of NICERC

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