Nov 24, 2015

White wins $280K NSF grant for cybersecurity educational games research

The National Science Foundation has awarded a 2-year $280,492 grant to support Dr. Greg White in research on the "Development and Analysis of a Cyber Security Game For Students in K-6." Dr. White is a professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

The project involves the design and development of pedagogical games to introduce cybersecurity and cyber safety concepts to students in grades K-6. It will engage students with activities demonstrating the relevance of cybersecurity to the world around them; challenge students with creative puzzle-solving exercises; and will analyze the effectiveness of age-appropriate cybersecurity games to introduce cybersecurity knowledge. A major aspect of this project is the dissemination of cybersecurity principles to elementary school students. If successful in test cases, the games will be provided to school districts for their use nationwide to help establish a national culture of cybersecurity.

To address the vast difference in capabilities of students in these grades, the project will develop a series of short interactive fun games designed to convey age-appropriate lessons. After delivery to participating school districts in Texas and California, an analysis of their effectiveness will be conducted and the results will be made available to other researchers. The proposed research will be conducted in three phases. In Phase 1, the project will create at least six prototype games accessible to a wide audience, that foster curiosity in security topics. The games will use established and familiar game engines. In Phase 2, the project will develop and deploy at least two of the prototypes in San Antonio, TX and Los Angelos, CA school districts. In Phase 3, the project will evaluate acceptance and impact of the games; disseminate curricular materials, evaluation materials and lessons learned; and will make all software tools available to other educators.

This project stems from the foundation laid by Dr. White' s AFA sponsored CyberPatriot programs for youth Cyber Education.