UGA Engineering hosts AI workshop for middle school educators

Workshop participants

June 2024 ImageSTEAM workshop participants

With Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the rise, it is now more important than ever for educators to understand and incorporate it into their curriculum at every grade level.

Earlier this month, faculty members from the University of Georgia College of Engineering hosted local middle school educators for a four-day workshop on applying topics in AI and computer vision to their curriculum.

Ramana Pidaparti and John Mativo, both professors in the college, are part of the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded program ImageSTEAM, a project designed to introduce AI and computer vision concepts to middle school students. A collaboration between the University of Georgia and Arizona State University, ImageSTEAM’s goal is to encourage students to pursue interests in STEM and empower teachers to train the next generation in upcoming AI technologies.

ImageSTEAM’s programming is designed for both students and teachers. Teacher participants are paid and provided training in AI and computer vision, in addition to helping to co-create curriculum and conduct classes in summer research workshops with students. Students participate in research workshops and learn tools and concepts in visual media and AI. 

The workshop, held June 10-14, 2024, at the Driftmier Engineering Center, provided participants with knowledge and resources to both incorporate AI into their curriculum and use existing technologies to build and develop lesson modules. Panelists Drs. Julie Luft, Denis Dumas, Dax Ovid, Xiaoming Zhai, and Raymond Schenk discussed the challenges and opportunities associated with training teachers to effectively teach AI concepts to middle school students.

Individuals sitting at tables listening to speaker

Keynote speaker Rod McRae, associate provost at Middle Georgia State University, provided participants with his insights into generative AI in middle school education.

“I’ve been part of this workshop for the last two years. Each year, it has been a joyful experience to work alongside other educators who are passionate about refining their teaching methods. The fresh perspectives shared here have spurred me to craft better and more effective learning experiences for my students,” said Derek Mcvey, a teacher participant. “Looking ahead, I’m confident that these kinds of workshops will keep contributing significantly to the evolution of education in Georgia. They serve as a clear testament of our shared dedication to enhancing the quality of education and improving the lives of our students.” 

Teacher participant Cody Arrington added, “This workshop was an excellent opportunity for me as a teacher to showcase my strengths and collaborate with other motivated teachers. Together, we innovated and explored new methods, building on the concepts presented during the workshop. In a short time, this workshop significantly contributed to my professional growth and even my personal life in unexpected and enriching ways. I hope this workshop continues for years to come. It was a remarkable chance to stay at the forefront of the artificial intelligence revolution, both generally and in relation to education.”

“The AI Middle School ImageSTEAM workshop was remarkable,” exclaimed Avalla Cleveland, another teacher participant. “We had the opportunity to meet fantastic professors and instructors whose innovation embodied the use of AI instruction. There is an urgent need for educators to start including these programs into all subject curriculum. Unless we intentionally prioritize the level of importance, we may be raising a generation who are not equipped for future employment expectations.”

“The workshop received great feedback from attendees. Participating educators got inspired and excited, and came away with a better understanding of AI and computer vision concepts and tools,” said Pidaparti. “We hope to host more workshops in the future.”

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