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INL launches Coding Coalition for eastern Idaho schools

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IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Idaho National Laboratory’s K-12 Education Enrichment program has launched a new Coding Coalition to support extracurricular computer science clubs in eastern Idaho schools.

The coalition is available to schools in Education Regions 5 and 6, which cover eastern and southeastern Idaho.

It will provide $1,500 in grant funding, resources and INL employee support to middle and high school advisors who assemble an extracurricular club aligned with next generation science standards or computer science standards.

While the club can focus on any number of computer science elements such as coding or robotics, each eligible club must commit to participating in one of two national cyber competitions: Girls Go CyberStart or eCYBERMISSION.

In partnership with the SANS Institute, the state of Idaho, and the Idaho STEM Action Center, the Girls Go CyberStart program is a free, national event encouraging high school students to pursue careers in cybersecurity by teaching them computer security basics through a series of digital games, puzzles and challenges. For middle school students, the U.S. Army’s eCYBERMISSION program promotes self-discovery and will help students learn about the real-life applications of STEM. Both programs provide opportunities for students to compete at the state, regional and national level with other students to test their skills and earn recognitions or event scholarship money.

In addition to funding, the Coding Coalition also pairs an INL employee ambassador with each qualifying club. These cybersecurity and information technology professionals, recruited from the lab’s National & Homeland Security and Information Management groups, will serve as cyber guides for the students and advisors, lending their expertise to help the clubs. Additional resources for advisors will be provided.

“INL’s K-12 Education Program is proud to partner with National & Homeland Security and Information Management in launching INL’s Coding Coalition to celebrate computer science week and to highlight how crucial computer science is in our everyday lives,” said Jennifer Jackson, INL’s K-12 Education Program manager. “I anticipate that schools throughout eastern Idaho will jump at this opportunity to partner with INL cyber professionals as they work through real-world digital challenges and learn about the exciting education and career opportunities in cybersecurity.”

Advisors interested in the coalition must have at least six female students recruited for either Girls Go CyberStart or the eCYBERMISSION based on student age. Registration is open at stem.inl.gov through Jan. 15, 2020. Registration for the Girls Go CyberStart and eCYBERMISSION programs should be made independently online.

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