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AI Is More Than ChatGPT: Empowering Kids to Be Scientists and Engineers

Pennsylvania Convention Center, Terrace Ballroom Lobby, Table 17

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Founder, Special Faculty
Carnegie Mellon University
Nesra Yannier is a Special Faculty/Senior Systems Scientist at Carnegie Mellon University and Founder of NoRILLA. She received her PhD in Human Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. She has been awarded Mister Rogers Scholarship (Emmy's College Television Awards in New Media for Children). She has BS degrees in Physics and Computer Engineering, an MS in Computational Sciences and Engineering from Koc University, Istanbul and an MA in Learning, Design and Technology from Stanford University. She has experience working at Disney Research, NASA Ames Research Center and start-up companies, designing and building new educational technologies to be used in real world settings.

Session description

I will describe an exciting new way to use AI to engage elementary students in doing and learning science. NoRILLA is an award-winning mixed-reality AI platform that bridges physical and virtual worlds to improve children’s inquiry-based STEM learning, based on research at Carnegie Mellon University. It uses AI computer vision to track children's actions in the physical world and gives them personalized feedback/guidance as they do experiments. Studies have shown that kids learn much more from the physical mixed-reality platform than a matched tablet or computer game (5x more learning) and from similar constructive hands-on experience without AI guidance, while also being more engaged (i.e. 4 times longer time spent voluntarily with AI than without AI guidance). You can see NoRILLA in action nearby at the Philadelphia Please Touch Museum and it is in use in 28 other schools/informal learning spaces.

Additional Information

As described above, in this presentation we will introduce a new genre of Intelligent Science Stations that can improve 21st century critical thinking, problem solving and collaboration skills for students from diverse backgrounds. In addition to direct active-learning support, intelligent science stations also provide an example of effective active-learning techniques that teachers and mentors can use in other contexts. We will talk about how teachers can use the research-based scientific inquiry and guided discovery methods in their everyday practice to improve student engagement and learning. We will explain how an AI interactive technology can guide teachers in incorporating a more inquiry-based STEM learning experience into their classroom experience by modeling behavior such as asking questions, making predictions, and helping children understand the reasons why.

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Session specifications

Augmented, mixed & virtual reality
Attendee devices:
Devices not needed
Subject area:
ISTE Standards:
For Educators:
  • Stay current with research that supports improved student learning outcomes, including findings from the learning sciences.
For Students:
Empowered Learner
  • Students use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.
Innovative Designer
  • Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.