Lamarr Institute’s AI4Schools Workshop
“Computer science unjustly has a nerd image”
For two days, senior high school students from the Gymnasium an der Wolfskuhle in Essen had the opportunity to intensively explore various facets of Artificial Intelligence (AI) at a workshop organized by the “AI4Schools” initiative. The concept, which was developed by the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, was implemented for the first time by the Lamarr Institute for Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, because education and the promotion of young talent are central topics to which the top research institute attaches great importance. In the premises of the Lamarr Institute at the TU Dortmund location, the students of two basic computer science courses dealt intensively with topics such as deep learning, neural networks and Machine Learning and discussed the challenges of trustworthy AI. In addition to interactive programming exercises, the prospective high school graduates had the opportunity to experience computer science live at the Fraunhofer IML in Dortmund and to get to know the everyday professional life of data scientists.
Why it is important to teach AI knowledge to students
The AI4Schools project aims to set the course for sound and adequate AI education. “This is important so that students, who consciously and also unconsciously use AI in their everyday lives, are given the necessary tools and knowledge in dealing with Artificial Intelligence,” explained Heike Horstmann, Managing Director of the Lamarr Institute, who helped run the workshop for a day. Headmaster Thomas Paus also came to see for himself. His reason for holding the workshop in cooperation with the Lamarr Institute: “What you don’t know, you won’t consider. The fact that various occupational fields in the area of computer science are presented here is an aspect that is important to us as a school. In addition, the knowledge is imparted by absolute experts.” His deputy, Bianca Kricke, added that it is impossible to imagine daily life without AI and that it should therefore play an increasingly important role in schools in the future. A statement that also corresponded to the wishes of the participating students, who – far away from the schoolyard and regular lessons – had the opportunity to experience a completely different everyday life, including lunch in the university canteen. That also appealed to 18-year-old Abdul, who said that the programming opportunities and conversations with several scientists have made him “even more confident about studying computer science.” His classmate, 17-year-old Nathalie, added: “Computer science is incredibly multifaceted. There are numerous exciting areas here that many simply don’t know about. That needs to change, and a workshop like this helps.” Oliver Urbann, Junior Research Group Leader AI & Robotics at Fraunhofer IML, did his part, for example, by reporting on his projects and answering numerous questions about various AI tools.
Training teachers – so that they can act as multipliers and take their knowledge into the schools
The students were accompanied by their computer science teachers Tamara Malzahn and Robert Spillner. It is important to both of them that their students are trained in the use of AI, but also that teachers receive appropriate educational offers on the topic of AI in order to be able to convey current topics and developments with the latest knowledge. The AI4Schools project also offers the right support for this: While the “AI4Students” module specifically addresses school students, the “AI4Teachers” workshop, which also lasts two days, aims to train teachers – irrespective of their subject area – so that they can carry their knowledge into schools as multipliers in the long term.
“Computer science unjustly has a nerd image”
The two young scientists and workshop leaders, Raphael Fischer and Sascha Mücke, drew a positive conclusion at the end of the two days. “Artificial Intelligence has an impact on society as a whole, but is underrepresented as a topic in most schools, which is why the discussion of this technology and its effects should be anchored in the education system as early as possible,” Fischer is convinced. Sascha Mücke, who had originally considered becoming a teacher but then decided to pursue a career in science, was particularly keen to convey how exciting science and technology are at the workshop. “Computer science unjustly has a nerd image, unfortunately also due to many movies and TV series in which computer scientists are stereotyped. I hope that will change. Because AI is a powerful tool, and I hope that in the future even more students will discover their fascination for the subject of computer science.”
About the AI4Schools project
AI4Schools works closely with schools to promote AI education. In the project, the training team of the Fraunhofer Big Data and Artificial Intelligence Alliance and experts of the Roberta initiative of the Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems IAIS combine their training and education experience in the field of programming, Data Science and Artificial Intelligence. As a cooperation partner in the project, the Lamarr Institute is involved in the implementation of the workshops AI4Students for pupils and AI4Teachers for educators.
About the Lamarr Institute for Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.
The Lamarr Institute is shaping a new generation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that is high performing, sustainable, trustworthy and secure to contribute to solving fundamental challenges in business and society. As one of Germany’s major AI competence centers, the Lamarr Institute stands for value-based, internationally competitive and application-oriented excellent research and is engaged in science, education and technology transfer on a regional, national as well as European level.
The research institute is constituted by the TU Dortmund University, the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn and the Fraunhofer Institutes for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems IAIS in Sankt Augustin and for Material Flow and Logistics IML in Dortmund. As outlined in the federal government’s AI strategy, the Lamarr Institute receives permanent funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
More information (in German) about the AI4Schools project is available here: ai4schools.de