The number of African American females participating in cyber fields is significantly low. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education requires a new approach to student engagement to increase African American female participation in cybersecurity. The most common approach to engaging more African American females in STEM is to provide students access to professional images or role models active in STEM; however, more is needed. More race-centered strategies beyond role modeling are necessary to attract and retain African American females in STEM. Research studies show that integrating personal experiences and making cultural connections can help improve student participation in STEM from underrepresented populations. In 2021, faculty in the Center for Cybersecurity Assurance and Policy at Morgan State University developed and implemented the GenCyber ‘‘Females are Cyber Stars’’ (FACS) Summer Camp. This initiative targeted female African American students in Baltimore public middle schools. Thirty-nine girls participated in the virtual program during the summer of 2021, and 25 girls engaged in the in-person program during the summer of 2022. The program’s goals were to increase female students’ interest in cybersecurity and exposure to the security of IoT (Internet of Things) devices in a smart home environment. The GenCyber FACS Summer Camp incorporated culturally responsive strategies to engage the participants in an inclusive and interactive setting. Participants were given pre- and post-program surveys to assess learning outcomes and examine the impact of using culturally responsive teaching strategies. The results showed that the girls reported increased knowledge and a gain in interest in cybersecurity and computing. This paper discusses the summer program and curriculum, culturally responsive teaching strategies deployed, student learning outcomes, and perceptions of cultural responsiveness assessed in the GenCyber FACS Summer Camp.



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