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Rep's bill would allow STEM ed to branch out

Boston Herald

Sometimes, vocations and avocations need a champion, and students in Massachusetts looking to further their knowledge of science, technology and robotics have one in state Rep. Danillo Sena. A House member representing the 37th Middlesex District, Sena filed a bill on Feb. 4 titled "An Act establishing an elementary and secondary school robotics grant program," meant to create a grant program that provides public and charter schools the necessary funding to increase robotics and STEM participation during and after school. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, a branch of education designed to help students to become better problem-solvers. "Money should not be a barrier between students and access to fun and engaging STEM education programs that foster creativity and have lasting positive effects on student achievement like these robotics teams," the Acton Democrat stated in a release. The bill was created in collaboration with Olivia Oestreicher, a member of Team 4905 Andromeda One Robotics at Ayer Shirley Regional High School and a Rep. Sena intern.


Tackling Gender Diversity in Tech, One Robot at a Time - Pittsburgh Region: Next is Now

CMU School of Computer Science

If you've heard of Carnegie Mellon University's Girls of Steel, I hope it was from someone who's participated in our program and not from a robot. Maybe you saw a young woman from Girls of Steel on the news as she constructed one of the program's 120-pound robots. Or heard that she and her teammates visited and made a presentation at the White House. Perhaps you read about their work in GeekWire. While the robots tend to get a lot of media attention, our focus is more straightforward: the girls who build them.


Massachusetts Commissioner of Education: At some point remote, hybrid learning needs to be 'off the table'

Boston Herald

With health metrics improving and mitigation measures in place across Massachusetts schools, Elementary and Secondary Commissioner Jeff Riley said Tuesday it's time to begin the process of getting more students back into classrooms. Riley, who is set to join Gov. Charlie Baker and Education Secretary James Peyser for a 2 p.m. press conference on education and COVID-19, told Board of Elementary and Secondary Education members that he plans to ask them in March to give him the authority to determine when hybrid and remote school models no longer count for learning hours, as part of a broader plan to return more students to physical school buildings. Riley said he would take a "phased approach to returning students into the classrooms, working closely with state health officials and medical experts." He said his plan would focus on elementary school students first, with the initial goal of having them learning in-person five days a week this April. "At some point, as health metrics continue to improve, we will need to take the remote and hybrid learning models off the table and return to a traditional school format," Riley said.


Salvaging the school year depends on quickly vaccinating teachers, lower infection rates

Los Angeles Times

Saving the Los Angeles school year has become a race against the clock -- as campuses are unlikely to reopen until teachers are vaccinated against COVID-19 and infection rates decline at least three-fold, officials said Monday. The urgency to salvage the semester in L.A. and throughout the state was underscored by new research showing the depth of student learning loss and by frustrated parents who organized statewide to pressure officials to bring back in-person instruction. A rapid series of developments Monday -- involving the governor, L.A. Unified School District, the teachers union and the county health department -- foreshadowed the uncertainties that will play out in the high-stakes weeks ahead for millions of California students. "We're never going to get back if teachers can't get vaccinated," said Assemblyman Patrick O'Donnell (D-Long Beach), who chairs the state's Assembly Education Committee and has two high schoolers learning from home. He expressed frustration that educators are not being prioritized by the L.A. County Health Department even as teachers in Long Beach are scheduled for vaccines this week. Although Long Beach is part of L.A. County, it operates its own independent health agency.


Creation and Evaluation of a Pre-tertiary Artificial Intelligence (AI) Curriculum

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Contributions: The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)-Jockey Club AI for the Future Project (AI4Future) co-created an AI curriculum for pre-tertiary education and evaluated its efficacy. While AI is conventionally taught in tertiary level education, our co-creation process successfully developed the curriculum that has been used in secondary school teaching in Hong Kong and received positive feedback. Background: AI4Future is a cross-sector project that engages five major partners - CUHK Faculty of Engineering and Faculty of Education, Hong Kong secondary schools, the government and the AI industry. A team of 14 professors with expertise in engineering and education collaborated with 17 principals and teachers from 6 secondary schools to co-create the curriculum. This team formation bridges the gap between researchers in engineering and education, together with practitioners in education context. Research Questions: What are the main features of the curriculum content developed through the co-creation process? Would the curriculum significantly improve the students perceived competence in, as well as attitude and motivation towards AI? What are the teachers perceptions of the co-creation process that aims to accommodate and foster teacher autonomy? Methodology: This study adopted a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods and involved 335 student participants. Findings: 1) two main features of learning resources, 2) the students perceived greater competence, and developed more positive attitude to learn AI, and 3) the co-creation process generated a variety of resources which enhanced the teachers knowledge in AI, as well as fostered teachers autonomy in bringing the subject matter into their classrooms.


The Higher Education Industry Is Embracing Predatory and Discriminatory Student Data Practices

Slate

In December, the University of Texas at Austin's computer science department announced that it would stop using a machine-learning system to evaluate applicants for its Ph.D. program due to concerns that encoded bias may exacerbate existing inequities in the program and in the field in general. This move toward more inclusive admissions practices is a rare (and welcome) exception to a worrying trend in education: Colleges, standardized test providers, consulting companies, and other educational service providers are increasingly adopting predatory, discriminatory, and outright exclusionary student data practices. Student data has long been used as a college recruiting and admissions tool. In 1972, College Board, the company that owns the PSAT, the SAT, and the AP Exams, created its Student Search Service and began licensing student names and data profiles to colleges (hence the college catalogs that fill the mail boxes of high school students who have taken the exams). Today, College Board licenses millions of student data profiles every year for 47 cents per examinee.


This team of high schoolers is building accessibility with free, 3D-printed prosthetics

CNN Top Stories

For this first time in his life, Pete Peeks was able to use both hands to hang Christmas lights outside his house this year -- thanks to the help of a high school robotics team. Peeks, 38, was born without the full use of his right hand, and though many may take gripping a nail, hammering it in and stringing holiday lights for granted, Peeks said it was beyond his wildest dreams. Early this month, he became one of the latest clients of the Sequoyah High School Robotics Team in Canton, Georgia. The team has designs and 3D- printed custom prosthesis to send for free to people around the world who need them. And as Americans gather for the winter holidays, the students will be at home continuing their work.


How AI works: An introduction coming to a school near you

#artificialintelligence

The critical importance of tech skills across industries sends a clear signal: In order to meet the expectations of future administrators and employers, elementary to high school students will need to learn expertise unavailable to their parents' generation. Today's leading innovation technology is machine learning, and to address the need for this vital skill set, the latest offering from the longtime partnership of Microsoft and code.org is a new course in artificial intelligence (AI) and its societal and ethical implications designed for students in elementary and high school. AI's relevance cannot be understated, as it is the very basis for self-driving cars, but it also powers devices we've already become accustomed to, such as Amazon Alexa, interactive programming, telemed appointments, and online learning. Those are some very big responsibilities to be tackled by Gen Z. As code.org points out,despite the great benefits to society, the ethical impact can't be ignored: "How does algorithmic bias impact social justice or deep fakes impact democracy? How does society cope with rapid job automation? By learning how to consider the ethical issues that AI raises, these future computer scientists will be better able to envision the appropriate safeguards that help to maximize the benefits of AI technologies and reduce their risks."


VIDEO: High school students shoot for the moon with robotic rover – IAM Network

#artificialintelligence

Using the NASA moon rover as their inspiration, robotics students at Lake City Secondary School are nearing completion of a working, remote-controlled, wheeled robot rover of their own design. The rover, named The Helios Vulturem (Helios was the Greek titan of the sun, and Vulturem is Latin for Falcon -- the school's mascot and namesake) was designed by Grade 12 robotics students Nathan Cisecki, Jonathan Wolfe, Jayden Guichon, Eric DeVuyst and Colby Ostrom under the guidance of robotics teacher Nick MacDonald, along with some assistance from Grade 11/12 metalwork students Cole Rochefort and Cameron Smithson. The students began the year disassembling a broken-down, miniature quad to eliminate broken parts and repair salvageable ones, while the metalwork students welded the broken steering column and assisted in the reconfiguration of the chassis. "We'd seen this quad sitting up there on a shelf in Mr. MacDonald's class in Grade 10, and he mentioned to us it would be our senior year project, but we never thought we'd be able to make it into a rover," Ostrom said. Four years has led up to this," Cisecki added.


EXAMS: A Multi-Subject High School Examinations Dataset for Cross-Lingual and Multilingual Question Answering

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

We propose EXAMS -- a new benchmark dataset for cross-lingual and multilingual question answering for high school examinations. We collected more than 24,000 high-quality high school exam questions in 16 languages, covering 8 language families and 24 school subjects from Natural Sciences and Social Sciences, among others. EXAMS offers a fine-grained evaluation framework across multiple languages and subjects, which allows precise analysis and comparison of various models. We perform various experiments with existing top-performing multilingual pre-trained models and we show that EXAMS offers multiple challenges that require multilingual knowledge and reasoning in multiple domains. We hope that EXAMS will enable researchers to explore challenging reasoning and knowledge transfer methods and pre-trained models for school question answering in various languages which was not possible before. The data, code, pre-trained models, and evaluation are available at https://github.com/mhardalov/exams-qa.