This school year, lessons onboard Learning Undefeated’s MXLab are going to look a little more like science fiction than what you might see in a typical science class. The nonprofit is debuting new hands-on activities that bring artificial intelligence (AI) and hypersonics to life for the high school classroom.
In the new artificial intelligence activity, students explore machine learning through Google’s Teachable Machine and problem-solve issues of data class bias. We introduce issues of data bias by having students try to create an image classifier, discuss with students about how facial recognition is often biased towards light-skinned faces, and brainstorm how this functionality could be improved. By the end of the activity, students understand and can define what AI is, understand how algorithmic bias can affect the capabilities of AI, and implement AI into a coded game.
In the hypersonics activity, students learn about engineering challenges faced when designing for hypersonic speed (Mach 5), where materials begin to disintegrate or come apart. To make this highly advanced concept relatable to high school students, our educators created an engineering design challenge to see which combination of materials work best for re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere. The student simulation creates data to help students determine which combination of materials worked best at keeping the interior of the space shuttle from getting too hot. Students design, test, iterate, and retest just like military engineers would do.
These new activities emphasize emerging technology areas that will be in high demand in the next decade and directly support DoD STEM modernization priority areas. Both new activities have been developed as part of multi-year grant funding from DoD STEM, under the Defense Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education Consortium (DSEC). This is collaborative partnership aims to broaden STEM literacy and develop a diverse and agile workforce with the technical excellence to defend our Nation. Learning Undefeated has been part of the DSEC consortium since 2020. DoD STEM also supports Learning Undefeated’s Emerging Leaders in Biotechnology program.
With these cutting-edge new content areas, Learning Undefeated is engaging students with DoD-related content to spark awareness and engagement, so that students can envision a civilian or military STEM career for themselves. Increasing engagement in STEM among students from underrepresented groups will boost creativity and drive innovation, helping to close education and poverty gaps, meet the demands of a technology-driven economy, ensure national security, and remain strong in scientific research and technological innovation.