“When I first understood what artificial intelligence is, I found it very fascinating, but my interest in the subject increased even more during this pandemic after I understood the role technology could play in harsh situations. Now, it has been two years since my first encounter with AI, and my interest in the subject has only increased,” said Ananya Bhatt, a class 11 student from DPS RNE Ghaziabad.
Many children in India today resonate with Ananya’s thoughts. They have taken a keen interest in AI. Moreover, parents do not want to miss an opportunity to teach their children a subject with immense possibilities and importance.
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“I was amazed to know how we can programme a bot of our own using simple Python codes. All the classes I have attended since then have been interesting, relatable and knowledgeable at the same time,” said the 16-year-old.
Lately, many schools in India have started capitalising on the increased interest among parents and children in AI. They are leaving no stones unturned when it comes to keeping their students up-to-date with changing technologies.
DPS RN Extension, a CBSE affiliated school, launched in 2015, is an institution that focuses on new-age technologies.
How it started
In 2019, the school started a Robotics Club for students from class III upwards. In 2020, it organised a robotics workshop wherein students from classes III to VIII built two categories of Robots:
- Mechanical Robots category: Students demonstrated Robots like Ball Shooter, Power Generator, Giant Wheel, Trike, Dig the Earth and Walnut Cracker.
- Programmed Robots category: Students designed and programmed models like Obstacle Avoider, Pulley with Crane, Line follower and 360 degrees rotating crane.
Subsequently, AI was included in classes IX and X in 2020 as an optional subject. In class VIII, AI is taught along with computer science.
After a rousing response to the development, the school introduced AI to class XI recently. “CBSE has launched an AI platform for students where they can brush up their AI skills for the future. Students of classes IX and X are free to choose between AI, IT as an optional subject or not to opt for any optional subjects if they wish as such. In a similar manner, we have stated AI as an optional subject for class XI from this year i.e. 2021. As it is introduced as a subject, we have periodic assessments according to our school calendar,” said Pallavi Upadhyaya, Principal, DPS RNE Ghaziabad. As of now, the school has one teacher for AI.
The school said the feedback from parents for the initiative has been positive. Upadhyaya said, “We had a decent number of students who participated in the Robotic club. We also organised a robotic exhibition where our Robotic Club students very beautifully presented their Robots using the fundamentals they learned over a year in their robotic club.”
First, the students are are taught basics, such as
- Domains of AI
- Types of AI
- Real-life examples like IBM Watson, Driverless Car, Siri
The school then engages students in AI-related activities to get more clarity on AI concepts. For instance, one such activity includes listing the names of the AI applications in our day to day life. This activity aims to help students brainstorm and identify AI-based applications they use.
Furthermore, to improve their subject knowledge and boost self-confidence, the school also encourages students to take up a topic and teach other children in the class. The school has also enrolled the students in an AI student community– an online community for students from across the country. The forum provides a platform for learning, sharing experiences and leveraging their knowledge to create AI-enabled social impact solutions along with spreading AI awareness in an inclusive way.
Few examples of topics/activities conducted in different classes as suggested by the CBSE are:
- Learners to design a rough layout of the floor plan of their dream smart home
- Rock, paper and scissors game based on data
- Mystery animal game based on Natural Language Processing
- Introduction to smart cities, smart schools and homes
- AI bias and ethics awareness
Class IX and X:
Introduction to AI Project Cycle
- Problem scoping session: Understanding problem scoping and sustainable development goals
- Data acquisition and data exploration
- Introduction to modelling
- Introduction to rule-based and learning-based AI Approaches
- Introduction to Supervised, Unsupervised & Reinforcement Learning Models
- Neural Networks
Activity: Data and Analysis
- What are the data features needed?
- Where can you get the data?
- How frequently do you have to collect the data?
- What happens if you don’t have enough data?
- What kind of analysis needs to be done?
- How will it be validated?
- How does the analysis inform the action?
Introduction to Python:
- Introduction to programming using Online Gaming portals like Code Combat.
- Python Basics: Variables, Arithmetic Operators, Expressions, Data Types -integer, float, strings, using print() and input() functions)
- Students try simple problem-solving exercises on Python Compiler.
- Students go through lessons on Python Lists
- Students will try some basic problem-solving exercises using lists on Python Compiler
Introduction to Computer Vision
- Concepts of Computer Vision
- How do computers see images?
- Image Features
- OpenCV Session: Introduction to OpenCV
- Hands-on: Image Processing
- Types of structured data
- Representation of data
- Exploring Data(Pattern recognition)
- Cases, variables and levels of measurement
- Data matrix and frequency table
- Mode, median and mean
- Range, interquartile range and box plot
- Variance and standard deviation
- Supervised learning (examples)
- Unsupervised learning (examples)
- Deep learning
- Reinforcement learning
- Machine Learning Techniques and Training
- Neural Networks
Maths for AI
- Introduction to matrices (Recap)
- Introduction to set theory (Recap)
- Introduction to data table joins
- Simple statistical concepts
- Visual representation of data, bar graph, histogram, frequency bins, scatter plots,
- Introduction to the dimensionality of data
- Simple linear equation
- Least square method of regression
- Issues, Concerns and Ethical Considerations
- AI and Ethical Concerns
- AI and Bias
Preparing for future
“Upskilling children with new-age technologies would definitely help students because I think the primary goal of education is to make students future-ready and the only way we can achieve that is by helping them familiarise themselves with the new technologies” said Upadhyaya.
She believes coding for kids not only helps improve their mathematics and writing skills but also gives them valuable skills in life. “The ability to solve problems is a trait that is useful in life in general. We all want our children to become excellent problem solvers to overcome any adversity they face. Learning to code gives children the chance to learn this type of skill while they are young and help them along the way in life. This is one of the big reasons coding is important to learn,” she said.
The school currently has computers with good internet speed and applications like python and other libraries installed, which helps students and teachers research on AI topics and run AI-related programmes. In the near future, the school plans to invest in developing an exclusive AI Lab and also plans to conduct inter-school competitions on robotics.