STEM (science, technology, engineering, math/computer science) has become one of the most important components in our children’s education. In STEM classes, children learn subject-matter content. But just as importantly, they learn the soft skills, known as the 21st century skills, such as problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and resilience — all skills that are needed to solve real-world challenges.
Children need both subject matter knowledge and 21st century skills to succeed in tomorrow’s workplace. The 2020 Microsoft report, The Class of 2030 and Life-Ready Learning found that most professions will require “strong cognitive abilities in numeracy, literacy, problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity.” The report goes on to say that future workers will need social-emotional skills as well, because the complex tasks they will perform will require more and deeper interactions between workers.
Computer science is an integral part of STEM education; and one of its subsets, Artificial Intelligence (AI), is fast taking the lead in the computer science realm. Children who learn AI develop all the skills driving innovation today: coding, machine learning, robotics, natural language processing, and facial detection, and optical character recognition, among others. Teaching children AI gives them information they need to navigate their world today and prepares them to take leadership positions in the world tomorrow.
Why All Children Should Learn AI
The reasons all children should learn AI are many and varied. First, today’s youth are inundated with AI. They use it when they go on social media, use smartphones, conduct a web search, interact with chatbots, or post a TikTok video of themselves showing off their latest dance moves; but many do these activities without understanding how AI works or how it influences their choices.
“It’s important that children be given accurate information about AI so they can understand the technology that is reshaping our lives,” said David Touretzky, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University and founder of AI4K12. AI4K12 is an organization that advances AI education.
Furthermore, for children to function in tomorrow’s workplace, they need to understand AI. AI is already transforming numerous fields, including ecology and conservation, education, mining, climate change, finance, and medicine, among others, and its impact will continue to grow. AI is also expected to profoundly change tomorrow’s job market. While some jobs will be automated, others, some that we haven’t even imagined, will come into being.
Given the significant impact AI has, and will continue have in industry, it’s not surprising that AI specialist was tagged as one of the top 15 emerging jobs in the US; and hiring for these positions, which has grown 74 percent annually for the past four years, shows no signs of slowing down, according to Linked In’s 2020 Emerging Jobs Report. Plus, AI professionals generally earn salaries of $100,000 or more a year, states a Text by Light article.
However, with all the benefits AI brings, it also raises concerns that it can be used unethically, promote racial bias, spread fake videos, and/or automate jobs. To experience the benefits of AI and prevent its misuse, our children, who will be both the future originators and consumers of AI, need to understand how it works, its advantages and its limitations, and ensure it is used ethically and without bias.
The Five Big Ideas in AI
Realizing the need for youth to understand AI and fill the substantial shortage of people trained in AI, educators founded AI4K12. The organization, which was formed by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and the Computer Science Teachers Association, provides resources for teachers; is developing national guidelines K-12 AI education; and is defining what students should learn about AI, machine learning, robotics, and coding in each grade.
As part of its work, AI4K12 developed the Five Big Ideas in Artificial Intelligence, the central concepts that should be a part of every K-12 AI curriculum. They are:
- Perception. Computers perceive the world using sensors.
- Representation and Reasoning. Agents (a program that makes decisions or performs a service) keep representations of the world and use them for reasoning.
- Learning. Computers can learn from data.
- Natural Intelligence. Intelligent agents require many kinds of knowledge to interact with humans.
- Social Impact. AI can impact society in both positive and negative ways.
Prepare Your Child for the Future
The global impact of AI is projected to be up to $15.7 trillion, according to Sizing the Prize, a study on AI by PWC, a global consulting firm. Ignoring AI and the impact it will have on society is similar to ignoring the internet and the ways it has changed our world. If students are to function immersed in AI, they need the knowledge and skills to do so.
Despite the prevalence of technology, and AI, in our society, only 47 percent of our high schools teach consumer science classes, according to the report, 2020 State of Computer Science Education, even fewer teach AI.
Though parents see how important it is for their children to learn AI, teaching AI and coding is a job most parents — and even teachers — find daunting. They worry that they need special equipment. Many are uncomfortable overseeing children’s learning in AI and coding as they aren’t familiar with the subject matter, and they don’t know what should be included in an AI and coding curriculum or what content or tasks are appropriate for their child’s age or ability.
Fortunately, parents don’t have to learn coding or AI to ensure their children learn it. AI World School (AIWS) provides an excellent series of courses on AI for K-12 students. Each course includes age-appropriate content and projects, and students’ progress through basic to advanced AI subject matter.
AIWS AI Programming and Coding Courses for Elementary — High School Students
AI World School offers a range of AI and coding courses for homeschoolers and students attending K-12 schools at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Each course incorporates the Five Big Ideas in AI and are aligned with International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards. ISTE promotes technology education, develops standards for the field, and provides resources for teachers.
AIWS’s courses use a self-learning platform, which allows students to work through the material at their own pace. This platform also makes it easy for parents to oversee their children’s progress at times that work with their schedules. Each course includes a syllabus and fun, engaging lessons that makes students eager to learn. As they complete exciting, hands-on projects, students apply theory to practice and master AI concepts and skills. Also, quizzes that check a student’s mastery of the material at key points are included. When they successfully finish a course, students receive a certification of completion. Finally, students need only a laptop or computer to work through the courses.
AI World School Flagship Courses:
- Al Novus, ages 7-10—A fun, interactive course that introduces students to the basics of AI and machine learning.
- Al Primus, ages 11-13—An intermediate level course in which students master the foundations of programming and key AI concepts as they create games and apps.
- AI Meritus, ages 14+—An advanced AI course that uses project-based learning to teach students theory and practical application of AI programming and coding.
AI World School Micro Courses:
- Discover Elements of AI, ages 7-10—Children enter the wonderful world of AI and discover what it is, how machines learn, and how they use AI every day.
- Playful AI Explorations with Scratch, ages 11-13—A fun course of study in which students master block-based programming as they create stories, games, and animations.
- Fun AI Playgrounds with Scratch, ages 07-10—By coding and experiencing AI via a simple drag and drop interface, young children bring their own creations to life.
- Meet 2ring.ai, ages 07-10—Children explore and learn about AI personal assistants with a friendly guide, 2ring.
- Xperienz The World Of AI, ages 11-13—An intermediate level course that gives students an understanding of AI, the tools that make it work, machine learning, and how AI impacts our lives.
- Build Your Own Android + IOS App, ages 11-13—Students use fundamental and advanced computer science programming concepts to develop their own games, interactive animations, and apps for their mobile devices.
- Discover AI with Python, ages 14+–Using Python, one of the fastest growing AI languages, students break the coding code by building games and engaging in other hands-on projects.
Ensure your child is prepared to meet a future that includes Artificial Intelligence! Enroll in our AI and coding courses at AI World School or experience AI Summer Camp 2021! Our Summer Camp 2021 courses are available now and start at $20 per course. Empower your child to be future-ready! Learn AI. Anytime and anywhere.