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Middle school students consider online assets, liabilities in Cyber Security Club

Ben McGee, standing at center, fields a question from a student at the Cyber Security Club meeting at Discovery Middle School. McGee works as chief scientist with Aleta Technologies. (CONTRIBUTED)
Ben McGee, standing at center, fields a question from a student at the Cyber Security Club meeting at Discovery Middle School. McGee works as chief scientist with Aleta Technologies. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – The Cyber Security Club has launched in Madison’s middle schools to advise students to act offensively and defensively during online sessions.

The club at Liberty and Discovery middle schools will meet weekly with local computer and cyber-security professionals. Club members will learn about security for information technology, operating systems, password protection, hacking and other scenarios.

“Our goal is for all students to be aware of what they put online and how it can affect their lives in the future,” Julia West said. West and Melissa Grayson sponsor the Cyber Security Club at Discovery. At Liberty, Christine Yeske is sponsor.

Seventh- and eighth-graders can join. “We hope they will attend at least 80 percent of the meetings to become certified in our program,” West said.

Organizers have designed eight modules covering fundamentals of cyber security. Defense Acquisition University has donated numerous computers to the club, which is affiliated with the North Alabama chapter of the Information Systems Security Association.

“Through our club, we hope to raise the awareness of our youth of how important it is to know what is online and how it will be helpful or hurtful to them,” West said.

Ben McGee, chief scientist with Aleta Technologies, is advising club members. McGee is the featured ‘cyber instructor’ at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. “He is well known in the area for vast expertise in cyber security, systems and software engineering” and has experience with national agencies including NASA, West said.

McGee will explain networking, coding and how to solve problems by using critical thinking and creativity. “Hopefully, students will use this knowledge both at school and at home,” West said.

Later this school year, the club will compete with other schools in the Cyber Patriot competition.

West acknowledged support from Mayor Troy Trulock, superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler, Discovery Principal Melanie Barkley and Madison Board of Education “for the opportunity to work with Ben McGee. What an impact this will have for our students!”

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