Building the Artificial Intelligence Curriculum for Florida’s K-12 Schools
Florida is among the first states to adopt a K-12 artificial intelligence education program designed to prepare its youth for the growing global demand for an AI-enabled workforce. Educators are the key to preparing students to thrive in a world where artificial intelligence is an integral part of their lives and careers. UF faculty from the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering and the College of Education have been at the helm of designing the framework for the Florida public-schools’ AI coursework, modeling it after the National Science Foundation’s national guidelines for teaching AI in elementary and secondary schools. The goal is to increase students’ awareness of how AI is used in their everyday lives and increase their knowledge of how AI works.
Despite AI’s increasing impact in society, our nation is just beginning to think about how to introduce AI to K-12 students.In May 2018, the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) and the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) formed a joint working group to develop national guidelines for teaching K-12 students about artificial intelligence. The AI for K-12 guidelines would define what students in each grade band should know about artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics.
Establishing an AI Framework
UF is establishing a broad and long path of AI learning opportunities for students, beginning with kindergartners, by first establishing the framework for the learning standards for AI courses to be taught in Florida’s K-12 classrooms. This includes:
- Specifying course descriptions, learning standards and benchmarks
- Ensuring that state learning standards are met, especially in computer science
- Outlining courses that a student needs to earn a certificate or credential
- Establishing the standards for K-12 teachers to meet Florida Department of Education (FDOE) certification to teach AI, including providing guidance on lesson plans and instructional resources
Development of AI Curriculum
With no teaching materials available for AI instruction at the statewide or national levels, UF faculty have been helping build an inclusive repository of AI curriculum resources that can be embedded into an inclusive curriculum, not merely robotics and data science. UF is developing standards for four courses to meet Florida AI teaching standards for state certification: AI in the World, Applications of AI, Procedural Programming for AI, and Machine Learning for AI.
The first course, Artificial Intelligence in the World, helps students identify AI in the world and how it works. In the second course, students begin looking at how AI is used in different fields to solve problems and potentially create their own AI systems to address issues they are passionate about. In the third and fourth courses, students can dive deeper into AI content that could be the foundation for AI skills in their careers.
Three school districts in the state – Orange, Osceola and Broward counties’ public schools – are piloting this AI curriculum with more Florida school districts considering the curriculum for the 2023-24 school year.
To support classroom instruction, UF is partnering with community-based organizations to create and deliver AI afterschool programs and summer camps to enhance student engagement and showcase the many ways AI is present in their lives.
Teacher Education and Assessment
UF has been partnering with the Florida Department of Education to provide professional development (PD), coachingand assessment in AI for educators who are and will be teaching AI. The professional development includes seminars, workshops and learning modules that will begin summer 2023 to targeted Florida public-school districts.