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Teaching Artificial Intelligence Programming to High Schoolers; Reflections on Year 1

Listen and learn

Listen and learn : Lecture

Tuesday, June 25, 10:45–11:45 am
Location: Room 125

Matt Johnson   Eamon Marchant  
Discover how students can learn and implement machine learning techniques in Python and other tools and also learn about the philosophical and scientific foundation of the field, and consequences for society moving forward.

Audience: Chief technology officers/superintendents/school board members, Teachers, Principals/head teachers
Skill level: Intermediate
Attendee devices: Devices not needed
Participant accounts, software and other materials: None
Focus: Technology infrastructure
Topic: Emergent technologies
Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: Career and technical education, Computer science
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Establish a learning culture that promotes curiosity and critical examination of online resources and fosters digital literacy and media fluency.
  • Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.
  • Model for colleagues the identification, exploration, evaluation, curation and adoption of new digital resources and tools for learning.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Due to recent advancements, the field of Artificial Intelligence is on the cusp of transforming not just the tech industry, but all of our 21st century society. In the '18-19 school year, I will teach an AI class to high school students at Whitney High School. The purpose of this talk will be communicate noteworthy details and takeaways from this first year.

- Participants will understand what artificial intelligence is and why it has such potential to create a sea change in our society.
- Participants will understand why artificial intelligence has skyrocketed in within roughly the past half-decade.
- Participants will be made aware of the information technology tools that were used within the course.
- Participants will understand the structure of the course I built with technical and non-technical instruction along with independent projects.
- Participants will see noteworthy student work and understand the nature of the accomplishment.
- Participants will learn of mistakes I have made and be warned of problematic aspects of attempting to implement an AI course at the high school level.
- Participants will understand the changes I'll be making for the '19-20 school year to improve the course.


Note: This presentation will be created as a post-mortem for this bold experiment, and much will change depending on how the year goes.

- What is Artificial Intelligence? (5 min)
- Why is Artificial Intelligence important to human society? (5 min)
- Recovering from an AI Winter: Why is Artificial Intelligence exploding now? What shifts led to this? (5 min)
- What tools did the students use? What equipment would a school need to implement this course? (5 min)
- What was the structure of the course? (5 min)
- Who were the students? What did they accomplish? (5 min)
- What didn't work? (5 min)
- What will you change for the next school year? (5 min)

Rough Minute Estimate: 40 min. Could be extended or compressed as time avails.

Process: The format of my talk will be quite traditional. To me this information needs to be relayed in as straight forward of a manner as possible. I will be striving to make it as engaging as possible, and that includes my presentation style. I believe I can make this talk interesting to anyone curious about AI's future in education.

Supporting research

There's no shortage of articles discussing the massive importance of "the Artificial Intelligence Revolution". Here are 3:

More [+]


Matt Johnson, Whitney High School
Eamon Marchant, Whitney High School

Eamon Marchant is a Teacher and the Technology Coordinator at Whitney High School in Cerritos, California. He has taught Physics, AVID/Advisory, Integrated Science, and Robotics and currently teaches AP CompSci Principles and Game Design. He is passionate about making the latest, most relevant developments in STEM engaging, accessible, and equatable.

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