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  1. With the growing prevalence of AI, the need for K-12 AI education is becoming more crucial, which is prompting active research in developing engaging and age-appropriate AI learning activities. Efforts are underway, such as those by the AI4K12 initiative, to establish guidelines for organizing K- 12 AI education; however, effective instructional resources are needed by educators. In this paper, we describe our work to design, develop, and implement an unplugged activity centered on facial recognition technology for middle school students. Facial recognition is integrated into a wide range of applications throughout daily life, which makes it a familiar and engaging tool for students and an effective medium for conveying AI concepts. Our unplugged activity, “Guess Whose Face,” is designed as a board game that focuses on Representation and Reasoning from AI4K12’s 5 Big Ideas in AI. The game is crafted to enable students to develop AI competencies naturally through physical interaction. In the game, one student uses tracing paper to extract facial features from a familiar face shown on a card, such as a cartoon character or celebrity, and then other students try to guess the identity of the hidden face. We discuss details of the game, its iterative refinement, and initial findings from piloting the activity during a summer camp for rural middle school students.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 25, 2025
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  6. The demand is growing for a populace that is AI literate; such literacy centers on enabling individuals to evaluate, collaborate with, and effectively use AI. Because the middle school years are a critical time for developing youths’ perceptions and dispositions toward STEM, creating engaging AI learning experiences for middle grades students (ages 11 to 14) is paramount. The need for providing enhanced access to AI learning opportunities is especially pronounced in rural areas, which are typically underserved and underresourced. Inspired by prior research that game design holds significant potential for cultivating student interest and knowledge in computer science, we are designing, developing, and iteratively refining an AI-centered game development environment that infuses AI learning into game design activities. In this work, we review design principles for game design interventions focused on middle grades computer science education and explore how to introduce AI learning experiences into interactive game-design activities. We also discuss results from our initial co-design sessions with middle grades students and teachers in rural communities. 
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