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AI playing vital role in shaping student minds

China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-04-22 09:02
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TIANJIN — Artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly prevalent in primary and middle school classrooms across China, providing a modern approach to education while fostering scientific thinking and innovative skills among students.

Huiwen Middle School in Tianjin is one of the pioneers incorporating AI into education in the city. It was named one of 184 AI education bases by the Ministry of Education in February.

"Maintain your speed and avoid obstacles," Ning Zhaohong, a technology project adviser and head of the school's innovation center, said as he taught students during a robotics class.

The project began almost seven years ago. In 2017, the school formed the Huiwen Singularity Club to enhance extracurricular experiences and provide opportunities to students interested in AI, Ning says.

"At the beginning, as we were all newcomers to building, operating and programming robots, we relied heavily on research and teaching ourselves," Ning says."Initially, most members joined for the robot competitions."

During their spare time, students and teachers teamed up to travel with the robots to attend competitions. Although they initially faced challenges, they soon began winning championships.

After years of dedicated effort, the club became popular for its regular robot demonstrations and drone operations, attracting an increasing number of students.

In 2022, the school officially incorporated Huiwen Singularity as an after-school program, providing every student with a chance to participate. It also launched technology innovation courses for students.

Ning has witnessed the club's journey from a niche interest group to widespread student participation, from a single instructor to a cohesive team, and from basic tech exercises to comprehensive AI education.

"AI courses should be an essential element of education in primary and middle schools," says Qu Wei, principal of the school, adding that learning about robots should not be limited to just understanding their capabilities at chess or assembly line work, but that students should also engage in basic programming to develop scientific thinking.

As hardware facilities improve and teachers and students gain a deeper understanding of AI, the technology is emerging as a popular and effective tool in various classroom subjects.

Before each class, the in-class AI Assistant reviews key points from the previous day and assesses the students' ability to read English. Physical education teachers use robots to provide real-time feedback and assistance in refining middle-distance running techniques.

From an interest group to the integration of AI into teaching, Huiwen Middle School's journey in AI education reflects the paths taken by many other primary and middle schools across China.

At the Beijing 101 Middle School, an AI-based listening and speaking system has been incorporated into English classes. Similarly, in Fujian province, teachers use AI and big data technology to pique students' interest in learning.

"AI in classrooms has already initiated transformations for both students and teachers. In the future, we will continue to improve teacher proficiency at using AI to enrich and refine courses," Qu says.


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