Artificial intelligence is already reshaping how some Colorado students learn. Is your school on – The Durango Herald.

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Model sculptures and cars are part of a demonstration by sophomore Victor Osimian of an image recognition program using AI on March 5 at the St. Vrain Valley School District’s Innovation Center. (Jenny Brandon/CPR News)

Victor Oshmian, a sophomore at Niwot High, clicks his mouse to attach a car. It is intended for small model walkers. But he stops the car before it runs over them.

“It actually sees pedestrians, but the AI ​​model isn’t strong enough to recognize that they’re all people, so it was just going to run over them,” he said during a demonstration with a toy car and statues. said

But then Oshimian shows how the car comes to a complete stop when it recognizes him, a real person, as programmed by him.

“It didn’t move because it didn’t want to drive me,” she said.

Oschmian is an early adopter, one of a group of students so fascinated by artificial intelligence that he’s on a special after-school AI project team at the St. Vrain Valley School District’s Innovation Center in Longmont. . They develop and design products for clients and get paid to do it. These students are at the forefront of exploring how artificial intelligence works in its many forms, but they are also helping educators learn how it can transform instruction.

‘Scientific Disagreement’

When artificial intelligence came on the scene, Colorado school districts fell into three buckets. Some immediately banned its use. The vast majority were interested – but also caught up in other challenges.

Some districts are trying to teach their students about AI — like St. Vrain.

Teenagers already tend to know more about AI than adults, even if only for things like changing their photo to look like a cute animal. Students are getting the message online that technology will change the way we live and work.

“And then they get into school and we tell them, ‘Whatever you do, don’t use it,'” said Rebecca Holmes, CEO and president of the Colorado Education Initiative, which has encouraged districts to use AI. A task force has been created to help include “It’s just cognitive dissonance for the teenage brain. It’s like an eye roll from teenagers that we should really pay attention to because they’re right.”

Oshimian used a program called AutoAutoAI to code the car to detect the person it photographed. He also programmed it to spin and stop at yellow lights and play “Happy Birthday” at red lights. Oshmian is also working on a pizza bot to take orders.

“This will help pizza workers not spend as much time on the phone,” he said.

Nearby, his classmate Malcolm Smith demonstrated a classification system he built using AI, which can solve patterns at incredibly high speeds. It can identify hundreds of unique Vex Robotics parts that young students use to build. His project is to help students but also their teachers.

“It’s a lot of pressure on the teacher because the teacher has to know all these different parts and it can be very difficult,” he said.

Smith holds a Lego-like piece. The machine’s voice identifies the part and explains what the part can be used for.

This is one type of real-world learning that AI can promote.

“I think AI is a powerful tool that will be incorporated a lot in the future,” Oshmian said. “And I feel like understanding it better will help us work better with it so it doesn’t just take over. And I think it’s better to understand it now than later.”

Another student said he would like to one day develop an AI that can help identify cancerous moles.

Then there are the ethics of using AI.

15-year-old Mark Pearl, who is more interested in engineering robotics than a career in AI, still decided to take a course called “Intro to AI,” which covers the ethics of AI. It sounded interesting and he wanted to know how it could help him in his daily life like writing emails. But here’s how he might use it in school: If the assignment is to write a short paragraph on the War of 1812 and some important historical figures, he’ll ask for an AI platform:

“What was the War of 1812?”

Like other students, Pearl said AI makes things simple to begin with.

“I try my best to use AI as an inspiration rather than a writing tool,” he said.

He would get the names of historical figures and then do his own research on each individual. Many students say they use it this way. Schaefer Piersol, a freshman at Newt High School, uses AI to help her study. Many students use the “Quizlet” study tool, which now uses artificial intelligence.

“I don’t want to go through all 20 pages of a textbook to do 10 Quizlet questions. So Quizlet will be like, ‘Hey, if you just upload the PDF, we can do it for you. ‘ “

Piersol has strong feelings about using AI to rip off artwork, which he’s seen his favorite artist do, “which is not a good thing to do.”

But for many other young people, the temptation to cheat is real.

“Many of my classmates use ChatGPT to write their articles, so no matter how I think, people always do what they want.”

Pearl, on the other hand, believes that it is not easy for students to avoid cheating.

“Almost all teachers can tell, like, if they’ve seen your writing before, they know, huh, that person doesn’t write like that.”

Teachers have clearly told students that if they use ChatGPT to write their essays, they are getting an “F”.

Students are also learning the limitations of AI (at least ChatGPT’s).

Nicholas Umpires, a senior, is working with his team on a project for the city of Longmont – building underwater robots to collect water. He wants to know what ideal flow rate the machine should use. He has already used ChatGPT for coding so he decides to ask the AI ​​about the flow rate. The AI ​​gives an answer. Umpires gives it more parameters. He gets only one answer.

He decides that maybe he should go back to the scientists in town to get more information.

Nichols’ teacher Nathan Wilcox chimed in, recognizing an AI “teachable moment.” They appreciate the umpires realizing that ChatGPT has huge limitations when it comes to hyper-specific questions.

“Do we know that this is the most recent, newest, data? Do we know that this is the best data? Do we know if that data was collected for that type of water sampling purpose?” asks the teacher.

Instead, it is Longmont scientists who will determine the ideal flow rate based on research studies. The exchange is another opportunity to learn about an extraordinarily powerful tool that is rapidly changing K-12 education.

Where do school districts begin?

SVVSD Assistant Superintendent of Innovation Joe McBreen said districts’ leaning into AI doesn’t mean embracing everything about it, lock, stock and barrel. But AI is only going to become more pervasive and powerful, he said.

“I think we are morally and ethically compelled to prepare our children for a competitive future, where they are not only exposed to AI but are empowered with next-level exposure and experiences so that they can confidently To live in this world,” he said. “It starts today.”

Schools can start by teaching kids the difference between traditional search engines and creative AI, which can include images, music, and code, or larger language model AIs – which generate text and use computer science. No knowledge is required.

“The most popular programming language in the world right now is English. Literally, you can talk to ChatGPT and get code,” McBrain said. “And what kind of opportunities does that open up?”

Other AI models can be used for data prediction and image recognition.

Districts must start with a set of teachers who are informed, empowered, and skilled enough to support students, McBreen said.

St. Vrain, one of the first districts to offer professional development to teachers, launched a gentle introduction to AI for teachers, encouraging them to complete a bingo board that explores AI in fun ways. Can be used for things like finding a recipe or planning a trip. They earn credit for completing cards. Along with coaching on security and privacy in the use of AI, the district is constantly analyzing whether there are any gaps in its existing fraud and plagiarism policy.

The district has created a task force of teachers and district leaders to introduce eighth-grade technology that focuses heavily on AI. But they would eventually like to showcase AI at all levels.

Recently, Deagan Andrews, curriculum leader for Greeley Evans School District 6, spoke with McBreen about the best way to begin developing an AI pathway for his district.

AI has been painted with a broad brush, McBreen explained, but in reality, it has many different facets: from autonomous driving and AI in cybersecurity to making people work faster. How to use language models Other questions to consider: What is the right level of programming knowledge for students? How can they use AI to advance their projects?

Many worry that not all students will learn to use AI.

A new nationwide survey by the Center for Democracy and Technology found widespread changes in teacher and student use of generative AI. However, it shows teachers struggling to navigate the many questions students have about responsible and safe use and teachers distrusting students, which results in more students getting into trouble. Many educators are stuck at this level, no matter how to teach students AI as a tool and for application-based questions, as the calculator did. Majority of teachers are uneducated.

The Greeley district’s Andrews believes schools have never helped students effectively take advantage of calculators or even Google.

“And now we take something that’s 10 times more sophisticated. How do we help students really take advantage of that?

That’s where the Colorado Education Initiative comes in. The nonprofit will develop a statewide plan this summer that will outline AI policies and practices needed for schools, as well as training for teachers. Rebecca Holmes knows the difference in equity is already starting.

“If a kid is in a district that’s moving forward on something, they get a lot of education about it and if they don’t, they don’t.”

Adeel Khan, a former Colorado educator and founder and CEO of Magic School AI, said it’s critical that AI becomes a competency in school, and not something that only rich parents can buy for their children.

“We need to lead the charge here and make the same mistakes of not bringing one-to-one laptops into schools (unless) they were being used in every professional work environment.”

Holmes hopes to encourage districts that have banned the use of AI to consider it as a first step.

“Please don’t let this be your last move and start figuring out how you can engage with it and help young people engage with it.”

To read more stories from Colorado Public Radio, visit

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