The Cyber Innovation Center (CIC), through its National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center (NICERC), has been transforming the way teachers engage their students and ultimately learn. The Cyber Discovery Model was created in partnership with the CIC and Louisiana Tech University in 2008. Since then, the model has ignited students’ interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) with demonstrable results.

Cyber Discovery has continued to grow and positively impact the region throughout the years. With a $2.35 million grant award from the Department of Homeland Security, the CIC is now rolling-out Cyber Discovery nationwide. This week the first national roll-out is occurring at the University of Baltimore in Baltimore, Maryland. Approximately twelve teachers and thirty-six students are being immersed in the world of STEM and cyber through an interactive, project-driven learning environment in which three core threads – engineering, cryptography, and liberal arts – converge. Other components include computer programming, cyber security, architecture, cyber ethics, and technical writing.

“The CIC is very excited to have the opportunity to share Cyber Discovery with the University of Baltimore. It’s not only the first step in our national roll-out but the beginning of a game-changing event in education for our nation,” says G.B. Cazes, Vice President of the CIC.

On Monday, June 18th, six high school teams from the Baltimore area registered at the University of Baltimore’s campus for the first installment of Cyber Discovery. Cyber Discovery is a dynamic professional development program that culminates in a week-long, residential camp for teams of six students and two teachers from each participating schools. The experience allows students to explore the world of cyberspace while teachers learn new techniques for engaging their students in STEM. The end result is preparing the next generation of cyber citizens.

Throughout the week-long experience, students participate in a series of tasks that range from robotics challenges, a cryptographic treasure hunt, creative writing assignments, evening cyber film sessions, and dynamic team discussions. Each event is carefully designed to prepare teams for the Final Cyber Challenge, the culminating event of the camp. The Final Cyber Challenge, which will be held on Saturday, June 23rd, includes a large obstacle course complete with historic landmarks and a layout similar to a circuit board. Teams navigate the course while competing for scarce resources (marbles) and return them safely to their customized cyber forts. The teams with the most marbles and total points from the week will be named the winners of Baltimore’s Cyber Discovery 2012.

Dr. Brian Etheridge from the University of Baltimore states that, “Cyber Discovery is truly a revolutionary education model. Teachers are eager to learn how to engage their students in the classroom.” Dr. Etheridge also said, “It is amazing to see how excited and absorbed high school students become during this challenging week.”

While students benefit from the integrated curriculum and challenges, the main focus of Cyber Discovery is the high school teachers. Teachers participate in two professional development workshops led by university faculty prior to the week-long camp and then guide their students through the camp challenges. The collaborative partnerships between the high school teachers and university faculty and the camp experience then empower the teachers to implement the Cyber Discovery lessons into their classrooms and, thus, impact students semester after semester.