Following on from the previous two years we will be running the CyberFirst Girls Competition again in 2019. Each year we are trying to improve the user experience so those of you that have entered the competition before may find a few new tweaks to the platform. This year we have also put together a teachers booklet that you can download now and we hope to have some posters ready to download over the next few weeks.
The competition is aimed at Year 8 girls in England and Wales, Year 9 in Northern Ireland and S2 in Scotland. We made a deliberate shift in age group in 2018 to give as many girls as possible the opportunity to find out more about Cyber Security with a view to potentially influencing the subjects they take at GCSE*.
The content for each category of the competition is consistent with subjects within the Computer Science syllabus from both the National Curriculum and Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence. However, the competition will contain some advanced cyber topics that are not covered in traditional education but will seek to stretch the lateral thinking and additional cyber knowledge of the teams.
What you need to know
Teams are made up of up to four female students in Year 8, S2 or Year 9 (NI) and need to be supported by a responsible adult aged over 18 years who can act as the team guardian. Team guardians do not need to have any cyber knowledge or be an IT or computer science teacher. The information provided on these pages will give some pointers on topics that might be covered but you don’t need to be an expert. Each school can enter as many teams as they wish.
During the online round the girls can answer the challenges at school, during lunch, in lessons or in the evenings either with the team or individually as part of the team. We appreciate it is difficult to allocate time from a busy school timetable, so we have made it as flexible as possible to enable teams to dip in and out throughout the online round competition week.
The idea is for the girls to answer as many questions as they can across all four categories, earning badges along the way. In each category, the challenges are separated into three levels of difficulty: beginner, intermediate and expert. Some Challenges now have hints attached to them these are there to help the girls if they are getting stuck. However, using a hint will deduct a percentage of the points allocated to that challenge.
Each level will have up to five challenges available at once, with more becoming unlocked as the girls progress through the challenges.
Each question is derived from skills used every day by cyber security professionals and all can be answered using techniques freely available on the Internet. We don’t expect all of the answers to be immediately obvious and suggest that the girls work, discuss and research together to solve as many challenges as they can. The girls can also use the open source tool called CyberChef, which they will find links to in the platform.
Most importantly – the girls should have fun!
Key Competition Dates
- 10 December 2018 – School / Team Registration
- 21 January to 28 January 2019 - Online round takes place
- 24/25 March 2019 - The Grand Final
The top 10 teams will be invited to take part in the Grand Final on the 24th/ 25th March 2019. Each team will need to be accompanied by the team guardian. If your team qualifies the team guardian will be sent a finalist’s pack which contains permission forms that will need to be completed.
As part of the prize we are planning a welcome dinner in the evening of the 24th March with the competition day following on the 25th. This year we will be offering the opportunity for finalists to stay over for the extra night to help negate travelling back home after a long day. A detailed programme will be available to all finalists nearer the time.
CyberFirst will cover the cost of transport to and from the Competition venue, further details on this and how to claim will be given to those teams the make the final.
All accommodation will be paid for, for up to four finalists and their team guardian. The cost of the welcome dinner, transport to the competition venue and lunch on the competition day will also be covered as part of the prize for getting to the final. We are also sending all the girls home with prizes at the end of the competition.
During the competition day, we will be inviting some inspirational women in cyber to come and meet the girls.
To ensure there are sufficient DBS checked staff and First Aid trained people at the event we will again be employing a pastoral care team from the Smallpeice Trust (https://www.smallpeicetrust.org.uk) to support your teachers. The Smallpeice staff will be available from the Sunday afternoon for the pre-competition activities and dinner as well as on call throughout the night and during the competition day. Smallpeice have a wealth of experience working with young people and we have used them throughout the summer at our residential and non-residential courses.
As with all NCSC public engagements, the venue details will only be shared with the finalists nearer the time and will not be made public in advance.