Making IT Fun!

IT-Adventures 2.0

After 11 years of running IT-Adventures & IT-Olympics it is time to look at the program to see how it can first be improved and then how we can grow the program.  We collected feedback from schools, mentors, and volunteers after the 2018 IT-Olympics.  Several themes emerged from the feedback.  1) More support throughout the school year; 2) Earlier notifications of primary challenges; 3) Better communication throughout the year; 4) More focus on learning; and 5) venues designed to increase participation.  Based on this feedback and also because of the high cost of running IT-Olympics (about $65,000) we are proposing the following.


We will establish IT-Adventures as the year-long curriculum and support system leading up to IT-Olympics.    IT-Adventures and IT-Olympics will be promoted and run by ISU with support from various partners and sponsors.


IT-Olympics will be a one day event and will be held on the ISU campus on Saturday April 27th.  This will eliminate the $20,000 in rental fees and reduce the food costs to about $10,000.  The total cost of IT-Olympics should be around $20,000, instead of the $65,000 we currently spend.  We will still have primary and real-time challenges.


The idea behind the venues are to both increase participation and to provide venues that are better integrated.  For 2018-19 we are proposing the following venues:

Robotics:  This venue is a great gateway into the program.  No changes are being proposed except for how the schools will be supported.  Students will come to IT-Olympics with a primary challenge built.  They will compete in the primary challenge in the morning and then compete in a single real-time challenge in the afternoon.

Smart-IT:  This is new venue and will feature smart device programming (like Raspberry Pi) with sensors to solve a problem.  Students will come to IT-Olympics with a smart device that will be judged.  While the primary challenge is being judged that will work on a real-time challenge.  All schools will be given a parts list in the fall and will be asked to purchase at least 2 sets of parts.  (We expect the total cost of the parts to be under $100, which will be the responsibility of the schools)

Cyber: The cyber venue will remain the same except for the on-site setup phase.  During the week leading up to IT-Olympics the IT-A support staff will be available to help trouble shoot any services and to make sure all teams are running before the event starts on Saturday.  The attack phase will be the same as before (starting at 8 am and going to 4 pm, followed by a debrief)

Community Service: Community service will become its own venue where teams will work during the year on security literacy.  Teams will submit their community service projects before IT-Olympics.  The community service projects will be judged beforehand and the top teams will present at IT-Olympics.  Unlike other venues the students in community service will be expected to be part of another venue and there will not be a real-time challenge.



Yearlong support

New this year we will create a set of monthly learning objectives and materials to support these objectives.  There will a group of students dedicated to supporting the schools through slack channels to answer any questions and to provide feedback on their progress on the objectives.

Common Theme:

This year we will focus on health care as the theme for IT-Adventures / IT-Olympics.  For robotics the real time challenge will have a health care focus.  Smart-IT will look at smart devices to solve a health care issue. And in cyber students will defend a medical center against cyber threats.  We will create a set of YouTube videos to   introduce the challenges.

Program timeline

Oct 2018:

  • Release curriculum outline
  • Release smart-it material lists
  • Release final scenarios
  • Slack channels will go live

Monthly Nov-March

  • Release curriculum learning modules
  • Provide feedback on modules
  • Student support slack channels

April 2019

  • Cyber setup starts
  • Week before IT-O cyber white team works with blue teams to finish setup
  • Community service venue is due and will be judged