Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Carnegie Mellon University and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have launched a joint effort aimed at helping students better understand the dangers that lurk on the Internet. The effort brings together the FBI’s Safe Online Surfing Program (SOS) and CMU’s Alice software package. The SOS program was launched 5 years ago to deliver Internet safety information to third- through eighth-grade students. Since then it has been used in 41 states and has reached more than 70,000 children. Along with getting out the information the program builds competition among local schools. The FBI partnership with Carnegie Mellon will allow the students to create 45 second animated public service announcements on Safe Online Surfing practices using CMU’s Alice application. The late Randy Pausch created Alice while he was part of the university’s School of Computer Science. It teaches the basics of programming in a fun way where students often do not even realize hey are learning. Middle and high school students will create the videos and FBI agents will judge them later this school year to select a winner in two age groups. Teachers must sign up on line to take part in the program. Assistant section Chief of the FBI’s Cyber Division, Nick Savage, says the goal is to reach more than 25,000 students with the competition this year. He says he then hopes to take the wining videos out to other schools. Savage says students learn best when they are teaching and he believes there is a great need to educate young people about hazards associated with Internet. Both the FBI and CMU hope this will be a multi-year collaboration. Savage says the FBI conducts the SOS program and other programs in an effort to be more proactive in an effort to prevent crimes before hey happen.