About Queen Of The Hill

Queen Of The Hill is a no-cost day-long computer security learning event for 7th-12th grade students living as girls in New Mexico. It includes material we've refined since 2009, working through various channels with New Mexico students.

How does it work?

The event is structured as a self-paced set of puzzles, presented as a game. Puzzles teach as student teams move forward, increasing in complexity and building upon previous concepts. As students work on the puzzles, staff walks around providing hints and assistance. Our events do not look like a lecture or even lab: kids are noisy, curious, and excited. High fives happen frequently!

Can I see some examples?

We have a few public examples of the sorts of puzzles we run. These professional-level puzzles are something the middle and high school participants in QOTH might encounter toward the end of the event.

Is this a hacking event?

Yes. We are teaching basic principles used to break security, in order to better know how to defend. Most of our instructors are employed as security incident responders: like computer crime detectives. In order to understand computer crime and how to defend against it, you have to first know how it's done. Queen Of The Hill provides a safe and legal environment for students to learn and practice these techniques.

Why all-girls?

After years of running events from 6th grade up to college and beyond, it's become clear that girls need an environment with reduced social pressure, where they are encouraged to learn by trial and error. It's our hope that by creating an all-girls event, girls who may not have considered that they have an aptitude for computer work will be able to try it out at their own pace and judge for themselves whether or not it's interesting.

Who's behind this?

The main force behind Queen of the Hill is Neale Pickett, a research scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Neale has been teaching computer security defense techniques at the middle-school and high-school level since 2010.