Princeton Girl Scout uses Gold Award platform to arm kids against online dangers

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Erin Kiesewetter fully embraced a STEM theme to earn her Gold Award. She focused on how cybersecurity is impacting young people.

With the advent of social media, technology has become an essential part of life. With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing schools to use online platforms, students have continued to rely on computers to do their schoolwork. Still, not all young people know how to protect themselves from identity theft, viruses, or cyberbullying.

These issues inspired Princeton Girl Scout Erin Kiesewetter to create TECH Teachings, an educational program about cybersecurity and online safety for her Girl Scout Gold Award project.

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The Gold Award is the highest achievement within the Girl Scouts of the USA.

As part of TECH teachings, Kiesewetter designed her own curriculum and workbook for her elementary school students, and taught students at Littlebrook Elementary School and Riverside Elementary School in Princeton, as well as Girl Scout troops in the tri-state area.

Partnering with the Girl Scouts of America’s newest badge – the Cybersecurity Badge – Kiesewetter was able to expand her audience to more Girl Scouts across the country.

“Working with my students was so much fun for me,” Kiesewetter said. “Though it was challenging at times over Zoom, seeing how engaged the girls were – especially in an online, after-school setting – made me excited to teach them.”

From learning how to create safe passwords to writing names in binary code, Kiesewetter transformed crucial cybersecurity issues into 10 digestible lessons for her students.

“I think that the most important issue for parents is [to] identity protection,” Kiesewetter said. “There are thousands of scams on the internet. It is extremely easy to fall for one and unknowingly give away pieces of your identity. It is important that parents know the risks and talk to their children about how to safely use the internet.”

With March being New Jersey’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) month, Kiesewetter encourages young girls to be unafraid to “hack into” the male-dominated STEM field.

“Just because the STEM field is dominated by men now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t be a part of it,” Kiesewetter said. “Technology has the power to change the world, and by embracing your passions in STEM, you too can change the world.”

For more information about Kiesewetter’s project visit www.techteachings.wixsite.com/education

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