Thomas County Schools to Help Shape Georgia's AI Curriculum

Thomas County Schools to Help Shape Georgia’s AI Curriculum

(TNS) – Thomas County Schools are leading the way when it comes to their extensive computer science programs. Today, the Georgia Department of Education’s computer science program is asking them for help in an untapped area of ​​the curriculum: artificial intelligence.

The project to begin work on a curriculum for artificial intelligence was funded by the National Science Foundation and is a collaborative effort between the University of Florida, Carnegie Mellon University, and the Georgia Department of Education.

“They wanted to develop an AI (artificial intelligence) program,” said Scott Sweeting, Thomas County Schools Science Coordinator. “So they needed IT people and we were one of four systems they contacted.”

Other participating school systems include Atlanta Public, Douglas County Schools, and Fayette County Schools.

Selected school systems were tasked with learning how to best deliver engaging artificial intelligence education to Georgia middle school students, while sparking interest in careers in AI and robotics.

Across all four school systems, GaDOE hoped to get feedback on how middle school students felt about AI, following their participation in a 9-week course.

“What I love is that our middle schoolers learn how it works,” Sweeting said. “Knowledge is power, and they are increasingly dealing with AI in their lives and now they have a basic knowledge of how it actually works and it protects them as well.”

Sweeting was only able to see small increments of the class at work, as he often did at the central board office. However, computer science professor William Hanna leads the AI ​​class.

Hanna said he was initially tasked with taking college-level material and breaking it down into smaller increments that could be tailored to college students.

In addition to breaking down the material, Hanna, along with Douglas County teacher Amber Jones and Fayette County teacher Betia Bently, will create the standards that every class must follow, when the material is rolled out in Georgia classrooms. .

“We had a rough draft on our first attempt,” Hanna admitted. “Now we’re refining and polishing it, so we can teach it to new teachers.”

Hanna explained that one of the challenges with the AI ​​was finding a way to connect it to each child.

“A lot of what we learn is about how they interact with AI design in their day-to-day lives,” he said. “We talk a lot about Snapchat and how it works, and how computers make sense of sentences, but there are kids who are interested in farming or training hunting dogs and don’t believe not that they will need a computer.”

For this reason, Hanna said they tailor the program to each group of students they have.

“Students taking this course at Urban Atlanta won’t focus so much on the farming aspect and how it can be used with farming,” he said. “Each teacher can bring their personal touch to it according to their population.”

Hanna shared some of the ways they’ve connected AI to farming, including teaching kids how different machines know a crop is ready by showing machines computer images of the crop at different levels, developing the machine artificial intelligence.

Although it can sometimes be daunting to find a way to connect with each child, Hanna emphasized how much he appreciates this opportunity to work with professionals in the field of AI and other teachers.

“I’m sitting here by first name with professors and AI experts and I can’t say I’ve ever had a time when I had so much access to that level of expertise,” Hanna said.

Not only did Hanna have access to these professors, but her students were able to present what they learned to the professors and give them feedback on how they thought the course was going.

“The idea that they were helping shape the Georgia State curriculum really got some of my students excited,” Hanna said.

After working with researchers and hearing feedback from students, Hanna said he sometimes realizes there’s a better way to explain a concept and include it in his polished curriculum.

Hanna concluded by saying that it was great to be part of this opportunity and to create something new for future students.

Once Hanna completes the standards and finalizes the curriculum, the GaDoe will approve the course, which will be titled AI4GA.

©2022 Thomasville Times-Enterprise, distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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