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Playful Explorations in Artificial Intelligence for K-12 STEAM

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Participate and share : Poster

Monday, November 30, 12:00–1:00 pm PST (Pacific Standard Time)

Jonathan Weber  
Caitlin Quarrington  

Bringing artificial intelligence into the STEAM classroom starts with hands-on, relevant explorations. No coding is required to start playing with AI! Learn strategies for integrating AI concepts like data and natural language processing across subjects and grades, and explore fun online applications to make AI come alive.

Audience: Coaches, Teachers, Teacher education/higher ed faculty
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices required
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Windows, Android, iOS
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: WiFi-enabled device (all programs can be accessed online without previous account creation needed).
Topic: Artificial Intelligence
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: STEM/STEAM, Computer science
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Create learning opportunities that challenge students to use a design process and computational thinking to innovate and solve problems.
For Students:
Computational Thinker
  • Students collect data or identify relevant data sets, use digital tools to analyze them, and represent data in various ways to facilitate problem-solving and decision-making.
For Coaches:
Content Knowledge and Professional Growth
  • Engage in continual learning to deepen content and pedagogical knowledge in technology integration and current and emerging technologies necessary to effectively implement the ISTE Standards •S and ISTE Standards •T.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Teachers across subjects and grades are being called upon to build and support digitally-driven competencies among students; however, resources and training to support this learning, specifically for understanding new and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), is often inadequate. AI in particular represents a critical growth area for professional development programs for K-12 teachers. While AI is increasingly being recognized as having critical implications on the way we live, learn, do business and interact with each other and the world around us, this is not reflected in classroom curricula. Teachers need support in building foundational AI literacy, identifying appropriate entry points for students to explore AI principles, integrating both unplugged and technology-based approaches for instruction on AI, and making connections beyond computer science into science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), English language arts and the arts, with opportunities to explore how AI education supports real-world problem solving.

This session will presents key components of Actua’s AI for Education project, which is a professional development initiative to prepare educators to teach youth to be responsible digital citizens, and to ultimately become the creative and responsible producers of new technologies. Elements include Actua’s AI for Education Framework, which presents six themes for exploration of AI from various angles, coupled with relevant investigations, curriculum connections, and diverse activities for classroom implementation. This Framework is a key component of the AI Teacher Handbook, which is widely available at

Through this session, attendees will understand practical ways in which AI concepts can be integrated across subjects and grades, know a multitude of online and offline ways in which to explore AI with students, and be equipped with skills and knowledge to continue their professional explorations into AI education.

Supporting research

Organizations such as The Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI, and The Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA, have begun to develop national guidelines for AI education; in Canada, no similar guidelines exist to support teachers in understanding a scope and sequence for AI instruction beginning in elementary school and continuing through to graduation. As such, this work builds on the research of these organizations as well as Google's Applied Digital Skills Team, Google Brain,, Microsoft, AI4ALL, and K-12 educators working in AI in order to fill a critical need for AI embedded across subjects and grades.

The teacher training presented here is based on the five big ideas in AI developed by AI for K-12 (; their five big ideas (perception, representation and reasoning, learning, natural interaction, and societal impacts) are reflected in the themes for this project, with the addition of a data module to introduce data science and its connections to AI.

A curated digital library of AI resources (including background information, online interactives, and other materials to support AI in K-12 education) has been created as a foundational piece for this project, which can be viewed in English at and in French at

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Caitlin Quarrington, Actua

As an educator, researcher, and science communicator, I have worked in STEM education for over 15 years in K-12 classrooms and beyond. Currently with the non-profit Actua, I design creative, innovative learning experiences for youth and teachers across Canada. Actua's professional development initiatives build meaningful relationships between teachers and post-secondary programs, creating interdisciplinary connections for hands-on exploration. My areas of expertise include design thinking, digital literacy including AI, and Indigenous STEM education. I have an MA in Critical and Creative Thinking (UMass Boston) and a B.Sc. Honors and B.Ed. specializing in secondary science.

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