The Six Year Old Hacker: No More Script Kiddies

Presented at DEF CON 13 (2005), July 29, 2005, 4 p.m. (20 minutes)

Computer use in elementary schools is problematic. Seldom are computers well integrated into the general curriculum. Often, they are used merely as instructional surrogates to "drill" skills. Particularly disturbing is the lack of exploration of the computer itself, and the culture of technology. Programming can teach vital problem solving skills, project management, respect for others work, and the value of collaboration. So why not cultivate the methods and ethics of hacking in young children? For the last 2 years I have been doing just that. Working with 6 to 12 year olds in a small Montessori school, I have begun to develop a program to encourage curiousity in our created, technological world, in the same way that their teachers encourages such curiousity in the natural world. I would like to open a discussion on the value of this approach, and the methods I employ. Perhaps I can encourage others to help cultivate the next generation of hackers.


  • Kevin McCarthy
    Kevin McCarthy has worked as a system and network administrator 15 years. He is currently a network and security consultant. He teaches programming to elementary school children and encourages their natural tendencies to hack.


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