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Grapevine-Colleyville ISD embraces artificial intelligence to help prepare students for future technology

Summer courses may lead to full-time classes in AI

NBC Universal, Inc.

We have cars that steer themselves and phones that fix typos, that's artificial intelligence, AI, it's everywhere.

This summer, Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District partnered with the Mark Cuban Foundation and the University of Texas at Dallas to bring AI to the classroom and help kids better know and understand how it works.

"When I first came in here I didn't think it would be this fun, you know, summer coding, but it was definitely fun," said Natalia Shevchuk, a rising 9th grader at Grapevine High School. 

The students are teaching their computers to recognize facial features. When Katie and Riya slide out, the computer knows Natalia is the only one there.

"We program the computer to recognize what it looks like when you're waving or smiling or giving thumbs up, and then we take pictures of us doing it, and then after that it would be able to tell us, you're waving or you're giving thumbs up," said Riya Sajan, a rising 10th grader at Grapevine High.

It's kind of the next step up from coding. Talk to big business leaders and they'll tell you it's the future on how they will operate and want schools to start preparing kids to not just understand it but embrace it, even if all the devices are covered in a thin layer of Doritos dust.

"For us, it's ways to try and that's the whole thing about innovation let's just try for us in Grapevine-Colleyville is to just test the water," said Kyle Berger, Chief Technology Officer for Grapevine-Colleyville ISD.

This summer class is his brainchild. He knows kids are curious about how AI can help them do homework, but he'll use that curiosity to unlock much more.

"There's a fear of AI in education, 'the kids are going to cheat,' right? Well, back with the calculator came out, I'm sure it was the same phenomenon right, 'everybody's going to cheat.' It's the proper use of these tools that's going to accelerate our ability," said Berger.

To some of us, it all looks like ones and zeroes and a whole lot of stuff we just don't get, the students see it differently.

"AI isn't something to be scared of, as long as humans know when to stop with it," said Shevchuk.

"The other thing to realize is AI can create a lot of new jobs, it's like important to embrace it, but not let it take over what we're doing," said Sajan.

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