AURELIUS — Al Morris estimates he has at least 15 devices that connect to the internet in his house, so he thinks it’s reasonable for his daughter to learn about cybersecurity.

Al and Cassie Morris were two of those present for the Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways’ event on their new cybersecurity badges at the Fingerlakes Mall in Aurelius Saturday. The Girl Scouts of the United States of America recently unveiled a set of new cybersecurity badges.

Activities that handled cybersecurity in a visual, metaphorical way were present, such as children drawing a castle surrounded by various forms of protection and then creating their fortresses with building blocks to emphasize the idea of using multiple layers of protection while online. A recruiting station and stations where local troops hosted activities such as making s’mores and making butterfly crafts from coffee filters were also available.

Sarah Powers, the STEM girl experience manager for NYPENN Pathways, showed off her castle drawing, which came complete with a moat, a knife-thrower and a fire-breathing dragon that she said ended up resembling a cat. Powers gave tips for securing information online, such as creating account passwords longer than eight characters to make guessing them harder and two-way activation for accounts.

Al, co-leader for a Marcellus Girl Scout troop, said that while Cassie, 9, is too young for social media accounts, he still wants her to be careful on the internet.

“We always want our kids to be safe, and internet safety seems to be the number one thing these days,” Al said.

Girl Scout Izzy Van Houten’s castle drawing featured a tower surrounded by lava, bars on windows and a multi-colored giant spider. Izzy’s mother, Lisa Van Houten, said the spider alone would be enough to scare her off. Lisa said online security is an important topic for her, as her children have tablets at home and can access the internet through her phone. She said her children play interactive games with others online, and they have discussed the importance of not sharing personal information or pictures of themselves online.

Older girls took part in an activity with strings brought together to stand in for a network. Kristy Partridge, the leader of different local troops, compared a network to a series of trains. While a train can carry people and goods, Kristy said, a network can send messages.

At one point, a strand of the string network fell to the ground.

“Our message was lost! Corrupt data,” Kristy exclaimed with a laugh.

Kristy said the importance behind the activity was to give the girls “a bigger visual of how everything is connected.”

Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or kelly.rocheleau@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.



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