By MIT Open Learning
The fourth annual Massachusetts STEM Week kicked off on Monday, Oct. 18 at the MIT Media Lab. Organized by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Education and the STEM Advisory Council, Mass STEM Week is a statewide effort to boost awareness, interest, and access in STEM education and career opportunities for learners of all ages and backgrounds.
A focus of this year’s STEM Week is “see yourself in STEM,” with particular emphasis on the importance of mentoring to bolster confidence in STEM subjects among students from underrepresented groups — including girls, people of color, low-income families, people with disabilities, and first-generation students.
"STEM is the toolkit of the future no matter what your interests are,” said Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. “You can’t think anymore of STEM just being about science, technology, engineering, and math because it’s everywhere. There’s almost no tool, no capability, no thing you need to succeed, that doesn’t involve ... some element of STEM."
In his remarks, MIT President L. Rafael Reif announced the launch of Day of AI, a new initiative from MIT RAISE: an annual educational event wherein teachers across the country will introduce students of all backgrounds to foundational concepts in artificial intelligence and its role in their lives. “K-12 students across the country will have the opportunity to learn about artificial intelligence, MIT-style — that is, through hands-on activities that will demonstrate the part AI plays in their daily lives,” said Reif.
Professor Cynthia Breazeal, director of MIT RAISE, senior associate dean for Open Learning, and head of the Media Lab’s Personal Robots research group, took the podium to elaborate on Day of AI. The goal of the program is to help educators and students develop the AI literacy needed to navigate this AI-driven world. In collaboration with education provider i2 Learning, MIT RAISE is providing free training and support to teachers to help them bring AI curricula into their classrooms through engaging, hands-on activities. The first Day of AI will be on May 13, 2022.
Increasingly, kids and adults alike are interacting with, and being influenced by, AI in ways they may not even realize, and have little or no control over — from search algorithms to smart devices, video recommendations to facial recognition.
“This generation of students, who are literally growing up with AI, deserves more than a vague understanding of these incredibly powerful technologies that are ubiquitous in their lives,” says Breazeal. “They need not just knowledge of what AI is and how it works, but also the agency to use AI responsibly with confidence and creativity.”