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Primary school students discover artificial intelligence with Kat'IA

CScience Le Lab produces resources to help young people understand artificial intelligence. Our collaborator was able to speak with Kat'IA, the character created by the organization, to popularize this seemingly complex subject, but not so complicated to understand.

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Creative, educational and inclusive project of CScience The Lab, Kat’IA brought together 66 schoolchildren from Guy-Drummond International Primary School in Outremont as well as experts in artificial intelligence (AI). An experience that now benefits anyone who wants to learn more about AI in their classroom.

Cscience Le Lab first brought together Sasha Luccioni, an expert postdoctoral researcher affiliated with Mila, a world center in artificial intelligence in Quebec, as well as Deepti Joshi, scientific director of the Center for Development and Research in Digital Intelligence (CDRIN). They teamed up with the professional draftsman Vannara Ty, co-author of the hit series La Moufette qui pète.

Together they created three cartoon videos in which the characters of Kat'IA and Algo explain to children what AI is, how it works and who are its best allies, the algorithms.

Added to this is a dozen digital educational kits intended for Quebec schoolchildren. The objective of this material is to enable students to discover new technologies and more particularly artificial intelligence. It addresses theoretical and practical notions with activities to be carried out at school, with friends or at home.

But by the way, Kat'IA, a clever little character and a bit mischievous, could perhaps tell us more about AI?

EB: Who are your parents, Kat'IA?

Kat’IA: I was born from the fertile imagination of the CScience Le Lab team, who wanted to address primary school children to explain to them the wonderful world of algorithms and artificial intelligence, hence my name Kat'IA. I for intelligence and A for artificial. Students of 2e year at École Guy-Drummond gave me life thanks to the pencil strokes of Vannara Ty.

EB:  Does artificial intelligence also concern children?

Kat’IA: Artificial intelligence is everywhere! In everyday objects and in the decisions made by our computers. So yes, it concerns parents, teachers and children alike.

ÉB: Kat'IA, can you give us examples of artificial intelligence in the daily life of children?

Kat’IA: In your phones there is AI, in your cars there is AI. In your television, to choose which movie to listen to, there is also AI. And when you search for something on the internet, there is still AI. AI is everywhere, for young and old alike.

ÉB: Does AI help us be smarter?

Kat’IA: AI is a decision support tool that makes us realize things we wouldn't have noticed without it. AI makes connections between large amounts of information and helps us make good decisions.

EB: How was the reception of the children to the Kat'IA project in the 2nd grade class at École Guy-Drummond?

Kat’IA: The children were enthusiastic from the start of the project. They helped me to become who I am through all their ideas, their great imagination and their relevant questions.

ÉB: Tell us a bit about Algo?

Kat’IA: Algo is the most faithful companion one can have, because he is always ready to take part in great adventures with the children. It was named Algo in honor of algorithms, which are AI's best friend.

ÉB: Can you and Algo go to other schools?

Kat’IA: To explain AI to as many children in Quebec as possible, Algo and I have put our educational videos and clips online on the internet. They are easily accessible and free of charge for young and old alike. And with Algo, we are open to all collaborations to further explain the magic of AI.

ÉB: How do we invite you?

Kat’IA: To invite us with Algo, it's simple. I invite you to visit my webpage: cscience.ca/katia

ÉB: Before leaving, Kat'IA, and going to play with the algorithms, can you tell us if there will be other capsules that will be produced soon?

Kat’IA: Our first three capsules explain AI. But we have plenty of other ideas to make the digital world more accessible to children. 

It will therefore be necessary to monitor the Kat'IA website to find out what's new.

About the Author

André Magny
André Magny
For more than 30 years, André Magny has been going back and forth between journalism and teaching French to teenagers and adults alike. Freelance freelance writer for various media including Francopresse, he was also a cultural journalist at Law in Ottawa and in charge of new technologies at Soleil de Québec. He also did sports journalism in France. He has a weakness for the Francophonie, culture, sports, cuisine and politics.

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