New Lowcountry Tech Academy in Charleston exposes students to cybersecurity during inaugural camp
Freshman Kathryn Cooke removed the female mannequin’s purse and dumped its contents onto a table.
The program will offer four more camps for students this summer, focusing on graphic innovations, marketing, networking and computer service. Some spots still remain for those, as well as for courses this fall.
Students who want to take classes at Lowcountry Tech go to the downtown campus at 1002 King St. during the regular school day, then return to their home school. The program offers courses in graphic design, networking, cybersecurity, marketing and entrepreneurship, green energy and construction, and keyboarding.
Parents are encouraged to call the program 724-0131, stop by the school, or go to ccsdschools.com for more information.
The Hanahan High freshman combed through the pile searching for a flash drive with “stolen” information that could compromise a company’s security. After about two minutes, she found it cleverly hidden inside a pen, and she spent the next eight minutes of the time exercise trying to find an embedded file.
“It was hard,” she said. “You didn’t know what to check first.”
The simulation was an effort to give students some hands-on experience related to cybersecurity. The inaugural, weeklong Palmetto Cyber Security camp was hosted by the new Lowcountry Tech Academy and developed by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center employees. It was open to students in any Lowcountry school district.
“We’re trying to create some excitement,” said Bill Littleton, cyber forensics lead for SPAWAR, which is a Navy command that provides high-tech engineering services to government agencies.
Lowcountry Tech Academy opened to Charleston students this spring, and its classes are housed at the renovated former Rivers Middle School building on the peninsula.
The Charleston Charter School for Math and Science uses the other 60 percent of the building.
The camp this week is part of a broader effort to raise awareness about the academy, as well as give students exposure to the kinds of programs it offers. The program also hosted teachers to provide more information on offering cyber clubs and competitions.
“We’re starting to really brand ourselves,” said program director Sarah Earle.
The program launched this spring with about 120 students, and Earle aims to more than double that to about 350 this fall. About 180 are signed up thus far, and the program still is accepting students.
Lowcountry Tech will be among the first in the state to offer classes in cybersecurity, which Littleton helped develop. Cooke, the Hanahan High student, said she has learned about forensics in school, but it focused on physical evidence at crime scenes, rather than encryption or hidden files. She said she was learning a lot and was enjoying it.
For Lawton Mizell, a senior at Military Magnet Academy, the camp fit in with one of his passions — technology. He wants to major in computer science, but his school doesn’t offer any of those classes. He has sought out other ways to fill that void, such as buying books to teach himself and finding an after-school robotics club elsewhere.
He took networking at Lowcountry Tech this past spring, and he would like to take another class this fall if his schedule allows.
“It prepared me for the future,” he said. “It gave me a good understanding of how (networking) works.”
Mizell appreciated the chance to learn more about cybersecurity at the camp, and he said he is grateful for Lowcountry Tech.
“It’s great information for kids who want to learn it,” he said.
Reach Diette Courrégé Casey at @Diette on Twitter or 937-5546.