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Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Farpoint Club's Cyber Legionnaires, Renaissance Academy's Saturday Morning Programmers. The Kremlin Trembles and the Chinese Cower Behind Their Firewall. Theater Imaginarium.

The Cyber Legionnaires at Renaissance Academy (notice the Roman banner) 
     What makes foreign governments question their future security? What keeps the Kremlin's spymasters up at night?  Why is China spending billions on new network firewalls? These governments, all guilty of meddling in American's cyber security, fear a small group of young, up and coming future programmers.They fear Renaissance Academy's Cyber Legionnaires.  
     Nestled snugly just to the south of the the tech memory giant IM Flash sits Renaissance Academy. Renaissance is a public charter school that specializes in foreign languages and experiential education using the USS Voyager, the school's starship simulator.  New to the school this year is the Saturday morning programming class offered free of charge to Renaissance students.  These thirty-one Cyber Legionnaires meet in my classroom most Saturday mornings from 8:00 - 9:30 A.M.  I volunteer my time to play host. I'm assisted by Alex, my right hand man and programming guru. Together we put the students through their paces as outlined in the Google CS curriculum.  
     Our young programming novices are learning SCRATCH. They're quick learners and keep both Alex and I busy.  
Each Cyber Legionnaire is working on a specific task. Some work in national security, others foreign surveillance, while others work on material so classified I shouldn't have mentioned it at all. 

     The curriculum comes from Google CS. Google has done an excellent job making the curriculum teacher friendly.  Each lesson has online videos and activities which work on any platform and any computer. We use Chromebooks.

Stephen is hard at work protecting the national electrical grid against foreign hacking.  His work is cleverly disguised as a story about a misunderstood rodent finding his way home. 
 Jack and Jason share a lighter moment as they review terabytes of code showing possible Russian influence in the last national election.
Young Loa found something quite disturbing in the code that safeguards the nuclear codes
Alex is reviewing the next section of code. The Cyber Legionnaires help each other. Above you see Noah helping Brandon with his code to protect the air traffic system.  A sticky note above the screen is the signal for help. A close examination of Brandon's screen would lead the uninformed to believe he was writing an innocent story about a an airplane that took a wrong turn, giving the passengers the ride of their lives.

     My job as host is to supervise, facilitate, monitor, encourage, and help with the coding when I can. Let me restate the fact that I'm grateful for my student gurus (the Google name for Google CS volunteers).  
     The students are enthusiastic to learn as proven by their willingness to return to school at 8:00 A.M. on a Saturday morning for a 90 minute class.  As the name of our group illustrates, our students know that the future depends on a computer literate population. Computer literacy should begin at an early age with age appropriate material.  Google has generously supplied the curriculum. It is now up to schools to make these lessons available to students nationwide.

     From this class of Cyber Legionnaires will come tomorrow's programmers tasked with America's safety along with the development of applications, processes, and equipment to improve our quality of life. Our ultimate goal is to provide America's companies with an ample pool of qualified employees ready to tackle the programming needs of the future. The time to prepare for that future is now.  

Mr. Williamson

The Imaginarium Theater
The best gifs of the week, assiduously edited for gentler audiences, minors, and the terminally offended.


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