Students at Fullerton Elementary School and Gretna High School recently rocked educational challenges alongside Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE) employees through Careerockit.

Careerockit is a Greater Omaha Chamber initiative aiming to inspire local students by connecting them with businesses, which host events for students to gain hands-on experiences in a career field.

Members of BCBSNE’s information services department provided activities and insight into the technical world for both younger students at Fullerton Elementary and older students from Gretna High School.

Chris Chung, one of BCBSNE’s 26 volunteers, said the elementary students learned how to apply Agile project management practices by working together in small teams to build as many paper airplanes as possible in four minutes.

The students first came up with a plan on how to build their planes and tested it out. When time was up, they thought through how to make their process better.

“They weren’t bashful at all,” Chung said. “They would just tell you how it went and what their feelings were.”

Chung said the students simplified their plane making process and did even better the second round.

“They went forth, and they just crushed it,” Chung said. “That was a really cool thing to see.”

Gretna High School students were faced with a bigger challenge than folding paper planes. The students, who came to Blue Cross Centre for their Careerockit session, played a capture the flag game similar to jeopardy to learn more about cyber security.

Chung said the students could look up answers to the questions they didn’t know, which is exactly what his cyber security team does at BCBSNE.

“A lot of the stuff we deal with, it’s the first time we’ve ever seen it in cyber security,” Chung said. “We use different blog posts and different articles to go and figure out the solution. It was great to see these sophomores, juniors and seniors just use all the resources they had.”

Jerome Skrdla, technical coordinator at Gretna High School, said capture the flag kept his students engaged.

“They’re all taking a cyber security class,” Skrdla said. “It’s just a great experience to get out and see how cyber security applies in a business.”

Gretna students Madi Haddix and Taylor Simpson said they enjoyed their Careerockit experience. Haddix, who plans to study computer science in college, said the activity adds to her resume and builds her excitement for the future.

“I’m excited because there are a lot of job openings,” Haddix said. “It looks like I’ll be able to find a job really easily.”

Chris Chung said he and the other BCBSNE volunteers enjoyed their Careerockit experiences as well.

“It’s a really great opportunity for Blue Cross and other businesses to give back to the educational side that we don’t necessarily get to see on a daily basis,” Chung said. “I think no matter how many times you do it, the results are always the same in that you leave just feeling better about the time that was spent and the impact you’ve made on a lot of different people.”

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