The Tech Partnership

It’s important for young people to understand how they can protect themselves and their families online, with simple tools and constant vigilance.

Students at Casterton College save the nation’s power grid

07.11.2016

Students at Casterton College save the nation’s power grid

07.11.2016

Year 8 students at Casterton College, a secondary academy in Rutland, have been fighting cyber baddies through the Tech Partnership’s Countdown to Chaos learning resource – and gaining an insight into cyber security careers as a result.

Countdown to Chaos is an interactive online challenge, featuring a scenario in which cyber criminals are plotting to bring down the nation’s power network. Over the course of four hours – which can be undertaken as a single unit or broken down into four modules – students meet the suspects; consider their motives, means and opportunities; and understand the system’s vulnerabilities.

Students Alice Fletcher, Taylor, Jonathan and Mark shared their end of module presentation with the Tech Partnership. To pinpoint the culprit, they created a table listing the prime suspects and the ways they could have penetrated the power grid.

They also weighed up the suspects’ motivations – was this an attempt by activists to bring the oil price crashing down, or an insider’s way of meeting his gambling debt? Or could it simply be a moment of carelessness by an innocent party?

Reflecting on the exercise, the students had clearly enjoyed the challenge. “It seemed realistic,” said one, “it was quite difficult to solve – it wasn’t too easy.”

And they had learned both practical tips and a broader appreciation of cyber security issues: at a simple level “I learnt that you can carry a virus from one laptop to another by a memory stick”, while on a more strategic plane, “before Countdown to Chaos I didn’t know that people even had the right technology and equipment to hack into the power grid!”.

“It’s good to see the resources operating at that dual level,” says Sue Nieland, Head of Learning on behalf of the Tech Partnership. “It’s important for young people to understand how they can protect themselves and their families online, with simple tools and constant vigilance.

They can also gain an insight into the work of cyber security professionals – an exciting specialism where there are tremendous career opportunities. Congratulations to the Casterton students, and their teacher Liz Goddard, on some great work.”

Countdown to Chaos is part of the Tech Partnership’s suite of cyber security materials, which includes Open Badges for students and CPD modules for teachers.

Visit the Tech Partnership Learning Hub for more details.