Creative Constructor
Lab Virtual
Leadership Exchange
at ISTELive 21
Edtech Advocacy &
Policy Summit

K-12 Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence: What Students Should Know

Listen and learn

Listen and learn : Lecture

Sunday, June 23, 10:30–11:30 am
Location: Terrace Ballroom IV, Level 4 (near Posters)

Dr. Christina Gardner-McCune   Dr. David Touretzky  
We'll present national guidelines on AI education for K-12 developed by a working group co-sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and the Computer Science Teachers Association.You'll learn about five “big ideas” adapted for each grade band and a curated resource directory.

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers, Professional developers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices not needed
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Assessment/evaluations/standards
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: Computer science
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Computational Thinker
  • Students formulate problem definitions suited for technology-assisted methods such as data analysis, abstract models and algorithmic thinking in exploring and finding solutions.
Creative Communicator
  • Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
Knowledge Constructor
  • Students evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility and relevance of information, media, data or other resources.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

This lecture invites the ISTE community to learn about the big ideas in Artificial Intelligence (AI) that every K-12 student should know and to explore free resources from our curated resource directory that will help students tinker with, build, and solve problems with their new AI knowledge. For each big idea, we will share expected learning progressions across four grade bands: K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12.
- Big Idea #1: Computers can perceive the world using sensors
- Big Idea #2: AI Agents maintain internal representations/models of the world and use them for reasoning
- Big Idea #3: Computers can learn from data.
- Big Idea #4: AI systems strive to interact comfortably with humans.
- Big Idea #5: AI applications can impact society in positive and negative ways

Our goal is to (1) familiarize teachers with the AI for K-12 Guidelines developed by the AI4K12 Working Group; (2) share freely available resources that allow teachers and students to get started learning about AI quickly; (3) empower teachers and districts to integrate AI into their lesson plans, either by integrating AI into existing Computer Science (CS) and technology electives or by developing new AI electives; and (4) provide curricular guidelines and resources for curriculum developers and teacher professional developers. Ultimately, we hope to start a long-running community-wide discussion about the place of AI in K-12 education.

The AI for K-12 Guidelines are being developed in a collaboration between AI experts and K-12 educators with prior experience writing national or state level computer science standards. Implementing the AI for K-12 Guidelines does not assume any prior knowledge of AI or programming. The guidelines do not require use of any specific tools or technologies. However, we have created a curated repository of resources, including freely available online tools, demos, and unplugged activities that are easily integrated into a classroom environment. Thus, teaching AI in the classroom can be accomplished with modest resources. Some of the tools we will discuss are:
- Cognimates (, a platform that uses extensions to MIT’s Scratch ( to allow students ages 7+ to interface with intelligent assistants such as Alexa, AI modules such as the Clarifai image categorization service, and IoT (Internet of Things) devices.
- eCraft2Learn (, a project similar to Cognimates that uses extensions to Snap! (, an offshoot of Scratch, to interface with AI modules for speech recognition and generation, image recognition, and machine learning.
- TensorFlow Playground (, an in-browser demonstration and graphical tool for exploring neural network learning.
- Calypso for Cozmo (, a programming framework for the Cozmo robot that allows students to experiment with core AI concepts including computer vision, speech recognition and generation, face recognition, landmark-based navigation, path planning, and object manipulation.


We will use powerpoint slides with graphics, pictures, and videos where appropriate to introduce and discuss all topics and technologies discussed in this lecture outline. Handouts will be provided to attendees with descriptions and links to the guidelines, tools, and resources.

1. Overview of the AI4K12 working group (5 mins)
2. Why this is time the right to begin teaching K-12 students about AI (5 mins)
2a. The Current State of AI and the Impacts on Society
2b. Current CS Educational Context
2c. Imagine the impact of AI in 10 years
3. Exploring the Big Ideas in AI: What should every child learn about AI? & What tools are available for teachers & students? (40 mins - 8 mins/idea)
In this section, we will present the big idea, grade band learning progression, and relevant tools and example activities teachers can use in the classroom.
3a. Big Idea #1: Computers can perceive the world using sensors
3b. Big Idea #2: AI Agents maintain internal representations/models of the world and use them for reasoning
3c. Big Idea #3: Computers can learn from data.
3d. Big Idea #4: AI systems strive to interact comfortably with humans.
3e. Big Idea #5: AI applications can impact society in positive and negative ways
4. Q&A - 10 mins
All attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions about the big ideas, guidelines, and resources. We also invite all interested ISTE members to join our interest group to provide feedback on the guidelines and big ideas and to stay informed about new resources and tools available to them.

Supporting research

Advances in AI have spawned widely used personal assistants (e.g., Alexa and Siri), machine learning algorithms that beat Go world champions, autonomous robots, and self-driving cars (Molar, 2018; Fuller, 2018; Simonite, 2017; Newman, 2018). These advances have had both beneficial and unintended negative effects which have not escaped mainstream media attention, e.g., bias in machine learning applications, or problems with non-Caucasian facial recognition. These stories drive the imaginations and the fears of the general public. Despite the increased frequency of AI headlines in the media, there is a lack of understanding of AI (West & Allen, 2018).

In response to these needs, the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) announced a joint initiative in May 2018 to develop national guidelines for teaching K-12 students about artificial intelligence (AAAI, 2018). Inspired by CSTA's national standards for K-12 computing education (CSTA, 2017), the AI4K12 Working Group will define for artificial intelligence what students should know and be able to do. Likewise, a number of organizations have recently begun investing heavily in AI K-12 education. AI4All ( a US-based non-profit is building a free online AI K-12 curriculum sponsored by a $1 million dollar grant from Google. Similarly, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has partnered with GM to develop K-12 AI curriculum (ISTE, 2018; Baloch, Crompton, Gerl, Harrison, Law, McGirt, Ramos, and South, 2018). Other countries, notably the UK and China, are ramping up their investments in K-12 AI education as well. Computing at School ( in the UK, in partnership with NVIDIA, has begun distributing toolkits and curriculum to educate teenagers about AI to address the UK’s skill gap in AI (Emmanuel, 2018). China, focused on becoming the world leader in AI by 2030, has mandated that all high school students learn computer science and artificial intelligence, and has recently published its first high school AI textbook (Jing, 2018). These initiatives are beginning to lay the groundwork for AI education in K-12, but there is much more we as a community need to do to support this work.

- AI4ALL. 2018. AI4ALL Open Learning brings free and accessible AI education online with the support of Medium
- Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI). 2018. AAAI Launches “AI for K-12” Initiative in Collaboration with the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) and AI4All [Press release]. Retrieved from
- Baloch, H., Crompton, H., Gerl, M., Harrison, S., Law, D., McGirt, F., Ramos, Y., South, J. 2018. Artificial Intelligence Goes to School [Text, Audio]. Retrieved from
- Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA). 2017. CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards, Revised 2017. Retrieved from
- Emmanuel, Z. 2018. NVidia aims to tackle UK’s AI skills gap by educating year nine students. Computer Retrieved from:
- Fuller, C. 2018. 6 Ways AI Is Revolutionizing Daily Life. AT&T.Retrieved from
- International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). 2018. Bold New Program Helps Teachers and Students Explore the Power of AI [Press release]. Retrieved from
- Jing, M. 2018. China looks to school kids to win the global AI race. South China Morning Post. Published May 3, 2018. Retrieved from
- Molnar, M. 2018. K-12 Artificial Intelligence Market Set to Explode in U.S. and Worldwide by 2024. EDWeek: Market Brief.
- Newman, J. 2018. Eight Trends That Will Define The Digital Assistant Wars In 2018. FastCompany. Retrieved from
- Simonite, T. 2017.As Artificial Intelligence Advances, Here Are Five Tough Projects For 2018. WIRED. Retrieved from
- West, D. M. and Allen, J. R. 2018. How Artificial Intelligence is transforming the world. Report. April 24, 2018. The Brookings Institute.

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Dr. Christina Gardner-McCune, University of Florida
Dr. David Touretzky, Carnegie Mellon University

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