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High school cybersecurity team cracks code for competition and fun




CyberPatriot is the Air Force Association’s National Youth Cyber Education Program, created to motivate students towards careers in cybersecurity and other science, technology, engineering, and  mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The program features the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition for high school and middle school students, AFA CyberCamps, and an Elementary School Cyber Education Initiative.

Sign up before October 5, 2016 to compete in CyberPatriot IX.

www.uscyberpatriot.org
www.afa.org
CyberPatriot is the Air Force Association’s National Youth Cyber Education Program, created to motivate students towards careers in cybersecurity and other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The program features the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition for high school and middle school students, AFA CyberCamps, and an Elementary School Cyber Education Initiative. Sign up before October 5, 2016 to compete in CyberPatriot IX. www.uscyberpatriot.org www.afa.org
CyberPatriotAFA (via YouTube)

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As the new semester gets underway, a lot of high school kids are looking for clubs and organizations to join. There's soccer, the debate club and, if you go to Magnolia Science Academy in Santa Ana, the cybersecurity team.

"They are basically treated like new IT professionals," said Tugba Adanur, MSA-Santa Ana math teacher and coach of the cybersecurity team.

The team has a big event coming up January 20th. It's called the Cyberpatriot competition.

"There can be backdoors placed on computers," said Yasemin Turkkan, one of the members of the cybersecurity team. "Our task during the Cyberpatriot competition is to find those and eliminate those from the computer to make it safe."

Turkkan helped found the club after Adanur helped enroll her in cybersecurity classes at local community colleges.

"I'm a teacher that's looking for ways to challenge her students," Adanur said. After a series of lessons, Turkkan was hooked. Adanur knew she had to help foster Turkkans passion. "I asked Yasemin if she wanted to start the [cybersecurity] club, and she was happy to do that. Then we created the team together."

The thrill of competition is what helps the club become a team. Each member is focused on a variety of points to complete the task at hand.

"It's a very team-focused activity," Turkkan said. "There has to be communication. We're always Googling things for each other. We're asking what the code for this thing was. So we have to communicate."

But they never let the competition distract them from what's most important in a high school club: having fun.

"A lot of people, [when] you show them coding and you say, 'This is what we're doing,'" Turkkan said. "But in reality, it's so much more than that. It's active problem solving. I look at it as trying to solve a puzzle with a million different pieces that's always changing. It's something that we're really passionate about."