Authors: Eoghan Casey, Ph.D. (University of Lausanne), Daryl Pfeif (Digital Forensics Solutions and DFRWS), and Cassy Soden



This presentation explains the design, development, implementation and future of the Cyber Sleuth Science Lab (CSSL), an innovative educational program and supporting virtual learning environment created to provide young women and men from underrepresented populations with digital forensic knowledge, skills and career pathways. CSSL combines online and in-person classroom elements that challenge students to become cyber sleuths solving real world problems, applying methods and tools in digital forensics, and exploring complex social and technical issues associated with cybercrime. CSSL extends the IDLE framework from learning sciences, teaching technical and problem-solving skills through goal-based investigative scenarios. By immersing students in real world problem-solving situations, this initiative strives to motivate students to develop scientific reasoning, technical knowledge, practical skills, and pursue related careers while improving their cyber street smarts. This initiative has been piloted with students from grades 9-12 in Baltimore and New Orleans and will scale to Seattle this year. The project connects with aspects of expectancy-value theory and social cognitive career theory (SCCT) to encourage students to pursue educational or career pathways related to computer science and STEM. In particular, CSSL focuses on the community and relationship building elements of the mentor network and collaborative peer learning activities to provide strong social and environmental supports. The practical curriculum has been augmented with teacher training, lesson plans and a pathway resource guide. Classroom activities introduce students to experts in the domain as role models and career mapping. In this manner, this initiative guides students along pathways that can lead to community college and university degree programs, and ultimately into the workforce.

This presentation covers:

  • The overarching design principles and research underpinning this project
  • The double-edged nature of technology and security
  • Educational and infrastructure challenges and practical solutions

This work is partially supported by the NSF STEM+Computing Partnership (Grant No. 1640107).