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Magazine of CA

SPOTLIGHT ON AI

January 22, 2024

Ultimately, CA’s goal is to foster a lifelong love for learning. While AI can streamline some tasks, the real magic happens when we leverage it to elevate and personalize learning.

Read on to learn just a few ways that CA’s faculty are already unleashing the power of AI on campus.

TAMARA FRIEND

MS Science Department Chair

Friend’s seventh-grade scientists embarked on an imaginative exploration of the periodic table through their Element Superhero project. Students investigated an element’s properties, creating a superhero character that embodies them. To spark creativity
in naming their heroes, students utilized ChatGPT as an ideation tool, inputting

descriptions to generate inventive names and iterating until they found the perfect fit. Some students used a generative AI illustrator to visualize their superheroes and elemental features. This innovative approach allowed them to realize fully their creative vision by creating visually striking representations that surpassed their limitations as novice artists.

GERMAN URIOSTE

Upper School English Department Chair

In Urioste’s Dystopian Literature class, students embarked on an in-depth exploration of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. In preparation for an
analytical essay on their topic, they leveraged AI as a secondary source, discussing their theme with ChatGPT and delving deeper based on its generated responses.

Subsequently, students analyzed their conversations to consider the benefits and limitations of AI in literary analysis. In small group discussions, they shared ways ChatGPT had helped to surface new
thematic connections or areas of potential inquiry and where it had gone astray and “hallucinated,” requiring their intervention and correction. This exercise proved crucial in teaching students the nuances of citing AI as a secondary source and underscored the importance of recognizing and acknowledging the origins of their information.

Beyond a single project, students are learning to leverage AI ethically as a powerful writing tutor throughout their English classes. While CA’s honor code— which now includes guidelines on AI usage—prohibits students from using
AI to generate complete written content, consulting AI for feedback and suggestions on specific sentences is allowed, provided they appropriately cite its use. Students
are encouraged to query the AI on its recommended changes, transforming the revision process into an instructive learning moment that fosters long-term improvement in their writing skills.

PATRICK LASSETER

Upper School History Department Chair

In Lasseter’s Cold War and Sports class, students immersed themselves in history by blending traditional research methods with modern AI technology.
Their assignment—to research a Cold War historical figure—included a unique twist: conducting “interviews” with these figures using ChatGPT, which they prompted to respond in character. Students then flexed their historical thinking and critical analysis skills, meticulously annotating ChatGPT’s responses to provide context and correct historical inaccuracies.

In a half-day X Day exploration led by Lasseter, students explored the intersection of generative AI and visual arts. They examined artworks created by AI, sparking thoughtful discussions on the essence of creativity, ownership in art, and the
implications of AI-generated imagery. The session culminated in a hands-on experience with Midjourney, an AI visual generator, as students experimented with creating AI- generated masterpieces.

Last spring, Lasseter also helmed an AI- themed Discovery Term course. Over two weeks, students engaged in an immersive exploration of AI, learning fundamental concepts and techniques, delving into the nuanced issues surrounding its development and use, and gaining firsthand insights into the fast-moving world of AI from expert speakers from Duke, North Carolina State University, SAS, and UKG.

SAM BEST

Middle School Dean of Students and Language Arts Teacher

In a recent X Day exploration of creative writing orchestrated by Best, 18 students worked together on a collective storytelling project made possible only through the power of AI. Their ambitious objective? To write an entire novel in just one day.

After collaboratively brainstorming the novel’s central concept and themes, students prompted ChatGPT to create the first chapter—identifying 18 characters—as a creative jumpstart. Each student then penned a chapter, continuously communicating with other group members to form a cohesive narrative. After sharing their chapters, students created summaries, inputting them into ChatGPT to generate a fitting final chapter.

Throughout his classes, Best teaches students how to use AI to bolster critical executive functioning skills like time management, thought organization, and task initiation. In the eighth grade Take a Stand project, students identified meaningful issues—from mental health to environmental sustainability to anti-racism and beyond— and pitched potential solutions to their peers, who voted on their favorite. Students will work to implement the chosen solution over the remainder of the year. With Best’s encouragement, students daunted by the project’s scope turned to ChatGPT to help create a project roadmap that distilled their ambitious ideas into actionable steps.

DANAE SHIPP

Middle School Science Teacher

In Shipp’s sixth-grade Eco-Storytellers project, students delve into the environmental footprints of everyday products, tracing their journey from production to disposal and exploring sustainable alternatives. In previous years, students created interactive PowerPoint presentations to share their insights with peers. Recognizing the disproportionate time students spent learning graphic design tools rather than research, this year, Shipp is pioneering Visla, an AI-powered video generator, as a tool for students to bring their environmental narratives to life efficiently.

Students worked in small teams to research different stages of a product’s life cycle, crafting scripts that Visla transformed into engaging videos they shared with peers. Students refined their videos through iterative prompts to Visla to ensure the final video reflected their creative vision and accurately conveyed their message.

SAM BEST

Middle School Dean of Students and Language Arts Teacher

In a recent X Day exploration of creative writing orchestrated by Best, 18 students worked together on a collective storytelling project made possible only through the power of AI. Their ambitious objective? To write an entire novel in just one day.
After collaboratively brainstorming the novel’s central concept and themes, students prompted ChatGPT to create the first chapter—identifying 18 characters—as a creative jumpstart. Each student then penned a chapter, continuously communicating with other group members to form a cohesive narrative. After sharing their chapters, students created summaries, inputting them into ChatGPT to generate a fitting final chapter.

Throughout his classes, Best teaches students how to use AI to bolster critical executive functioning skills like time management, thought organization, and task initiation. In the eighth grade Take a
Stand project, students identified meaningful issues—from mental health to environmental sustainability to anti-racism and beyond— and pitched potential solutions to their
peers, who voted on their favorite. Students will work to implement the chosen solution over the remainder of the year. With Best’s encouragement, students daunted by the project’s scope turned to ChatGPT to help create a project roadmap that distilled their ambitious ideas into actionable steps.

MALI BURNETT

Upper School Science Teacher

In her Biology: Ecological Focus class’s study of earth biomes, Burnett used DALL-E and Canva AI to create a series of artificial otherworldly landscapes with distinct biologic features. Students assumed the role of intergalactic scientists returning from a research mission to assess characteristics of the contrived landscapes and determine what biome on earth it most resembled. Using the images, they answered questions about their chosen biome to demonstrate their reasoning.

In another end-of-unit project, Burnett tasked students with designing—from study methodology to budget requirements—a sky- is-the-limit, personally meaningful (albeit fictitious) research experiment. Students used ChatGPT as a springboard for deeper inquiry, ideating lucrative research questions by customizing a prompt script provided by Burnett with their scientific interests. (An example outcome? One student designed a study focused on the effect of air pollution on Yellowstone’s bison population, complete with a plan for helicopter-administered tranquilizers and tissue sampling.)

In addition to encouraging student use, Burnett uses AI as a research tool to streamline course preparation. From generating and refining a list of native
and invasive organisms for an envisioned assignment to compiling a set of court findings that illustrate to Advance Biotechnology students the importance of detailed documentation in lab notebooks, she’s utilized ChatGPT as a time-saving research partner for preparing assignments and class materials.

DEE ELMORE

Middle School Digital Arts Teacher

In a recent graphic design project in her Middle School digital arts class, Elmore had students leverage ChatGPT to ideate names of fictional sports teams for which they would develop a print brochure. Students wrote and ideated copy and created a design that followed best practices in typography and information design. Later, students will use an AI-visual generator to iteratively design a mascot for their team, lending a high production value to their final brochure and, later, a team trading card. Throughout, Elmore is using AI-assisted projects as an opportunity to teach students how to prompt AI generators to create intended visuals that reflect their own artistic vision and voice, and to foster critical conversations about the complex themes and challenges surrounding the use of AI in art, including artistic appropriation and copyright.

Written by Dean Sauls

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