Thornapple Kellogg School District

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TKHS students crack codes at week-long cyber camp

 Only eight schools were invited to attend the EMU camp week, with each school sending a team consisting of six high school sophomores and two teachers or advisors.

This is the second time TK students have been invited to participate. Last year's team also came home with the runner-up prize.

This year's team members were Maddie Hess, Brody Keiser, Charles Knorr, Hunter Lapekas, Jenna Walters and Brinkley Ward. They were accompanied by TKHS math and computer science teacher Donna von der Hoff and TKHS English teacher Cary Saxton.

The winning team received $1,000, and the first runner-up received $750 for their respective schools.

In addition to hands-on engineering and computer science labs, the camp included a cryptographic treasure hunt, film session and a cyber challenge. Each activity integrated history, ethical issues, applications, and theories behind cyberspace, security and cryptography.

A year ago, von der Hoff took the first team of TK students to the camp and said  she was impressed with the program and the amount of learning that took place during the week. She also said she’s able to bring new ideas into the classrooms at TKHS for all students.

The cyber camp is a national program funded by Homeland Security and started in Louisiana. EMU was added as a site last year. EMU is one of five universities in the country to host the Cyber Discovery Camp, The goal is to education students and teachers about cyber security with an emphasis on math, engineering, science and humanities.

By offering the camp to younger high school students, the aim is to expose them to career possibilities and help them make high school course selections that will best prepare them for those possible careers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ occupational outlook, cyber security positions are expected to increase by 37 percent through 2022, a much higher increase than other fields.