Middle School students using AI to help them learn about historical figures

Sandy Kenyon Image
Tuesday, December 12, 2023
Students using AI to help them learn about historical figures
Sandy Kenyon has more the use of AI inside classrooms.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- It's now been one year since the release of ChatGPT changed the conversation about artificial intelligence (AI) forever. ChatGPT now has more than 180 million users who ask it all sorts of questions and get it to do a variety of tasks. A recent article aimed at educators notes the app has changed teaching forever, and going back to my old elementary school got me thinking about how today's looks can be used to understand the past.

The recent movie "Napoleon" starring Joaquin Phoenix brings the general back to life on the big screen, but at the Buckley School, a group of sixth graders is learning all about him, not from a movie, but from a machine! "Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader," the chatbot says loudly when asked about him. This prompted student Lucas Alfaro to observe, "There's a lot of details that I'm surprised that it knows."

Students at Buckley on the Upper East Side are going back to the future. "I feel that it's important to study AI in 6th grade," says Iver Naturaj, "so that when you get older and AI begins to advance more-you know how to deal with it and how to handle it."

Times sure have changed since I went to Buckley with my brother Geoffrey in the 1960s. My late uncle, Malcolm Low, who was a Buckley student in the 1930s, would be truly amazed by what's taught here today. "I think it's yeah going at a very rapid pace," says teacher Grace Lee, "I don't think we would have imagined this five, 10 years ago." Joining her in the classroom is Julie King, who is Buckley's Assistant Head of School. "AI is multiplying rapidly which is why it's really important to start talking early, not just with educators but with students and their families."

The Buckley boys are learning all about the pros and cons of AI. Ty McTamaney notes, "It can be used to progress technology and things, but it's scary." Ben Buonanno agrees. "One of the dangers is plagiarism." Richard Cheng warns, "It can get you expelled from school if you use it in the wrong way." Kishore Katkar picks up on that saying, "Using ChatGPT is one way you can plagiarize." This is why ChatGPT's owner says the app should not be used by those under 13 and use by those 13-18 should be with parental supervision.

"The age limit is thinking of the worst scenario possible," Carter Allen told his classmates. I ask him what scares him the most about AI. "The development where it comes out of our hands, and it can control itself." Carter has it right, and the 6th grader has a warning for all of us not to be too "greedy" before we know precisely what the app can do. He urges us to proceed with caution! There's much more we all have to learn, but for now, I'm just glad these Buckley boys have a handle on it!

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