Blake Wood
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The University of Illinois Springfield Associate Professor of Computer Science Elham Buxton has published a new curriculum model aimed at fostering competencies in artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) among students in grades 7-10.

Titled “Foundations of Autonomous Vehicles,” the peer-reviewed curriculum merges AI expertise with IoT skills to create an immersive learning experience. Buxton collaborated with Elahe Javadi, associate professor of information systems at Illinois State University, and research assistant Matthew Hagaman to develop the educational model.

Tested during a one-week summer camp at UIS, the curriculum engaged students in hands-on activities involving sensors, computer vision model training and robot car programming. By encouraging reflection and active experimentation, students gained valuable insights into the societal implications of AI and IoT technologies.

Incorporating AI and IoT into K-12 education is paramount for preparing students for the AI-driven landscape of the future,” Buxton said. “Our curriculum provides a holistic approach to AI literacy, allowing students to delve into the intersection of AI and IoT through captivating activities centered around autonomous vehicles.”

The curriculum seamlessly integrates practical exercises with theoretical principles, equipping students with the skills needed to navigate technological advancements.

“We firmly believe that early exposure to AI and IoT will not only bolster students' technological proficiency but also inspire them to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers,” Buxton added.

The curriculum model is designed to be accessible and replicable, empowering educators with or without a computer science background to implement similar programs in informal settings. By leveraging free platforms and tools, the program aims to democratize access to AI education and inspire the next generation of innovators.

Buxton first presented the curriculum during the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) Conference on Artificial Intelligence in February 2024. The full manuscript can be found on the conference’s website.

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