Data science / IoT / AI curriculum

At XinaBox we are focussed on supporting the development of digital literacy in the classroom. Through hardware, software and learning materials our mission is to take technology beyond the computer science labs and into the mainstream curricula.

We recognise the importance of coding as an element of digital literacy... we see it as part of a greater whole. "Get kids coding" is a chapter in a larger story titled "Get young learners engaged with technology". Coding skills alone do not equate to digital literacy.  

This philosophy is at the heart of our data science / IoT / AI curriculum (referred to as MSAI):

The 5 modules that compromise MSAI

MSAI was developed in partnership with Microsoft and piloted in 2020, during the Covid crisis, in schools on two continents.

 MSAI takes students on a learning journey that encompasses five modules. 

You don't need to take your students through all five modules: each is themed and works perfectly on its own (with the exception of Module 5, which brings together everything learned in the first 4 modules).

The first 2 modules constitute a stand-alone course that is accessible to all high school level students.  We refer to these modules as the Introduction To Physical Computing Course (IPCC).  IPCC includes ten original and entertaining lessons and hours of extension activities:

  • Module 1 focusses on data literacy. By the end of the module students are able to design and execute experiments. They are confident using digital tools to gather and analyse data and are inquisitive and insightful in their use of data - they will have achieved a meaningful level of 'data literacy'.  They are equipped to undertake a range of fun and interesting cross-curriculum experiments. 
  • Module 2 covers the basics of coding. By the end of this module students understand the key concepts of software development and the importance of focussing on the needs of the end user during the software design process. They can design and write software that controls novel digital instruments.

IPCC provides a solid foundation for a learner, and all the lessons are built according to NGSS guidelines and are linked to the ISTE International Standards. 

Module 3 consists of three lessons (also based on NGSS guidelines and linked to ISTE standards) and extension activities and can be delivered as an add-on to IPCC or as an introduction to Modules 4 and 5, or even as a stand-alone module:

  • Module 3 introduces students to IoT and the Cloud whilst looking at key emerging technologies such as blockchain and concepts such as online security. By the end of this module students are comfortable discussing and using cloud based technologies.

Modules 4 and 5 include hands-on activities that combine what was learned in the first 3 modules with a number of Office365 applications.  Students apply what they have learned and build increasingly complex systems that initially use IoT then go on to using AI / ML:

  • Module 4 is all about integrating the tools and skills learned in the first 3 modules with Office365 applications.  Through 3 hands-on 'curated learning journeys' that students can work through on their own or with a teachers' guidance, we show students how they can take the data they collected in the real world, get it into the Office365 quite, then use sophisticated tools to analyse it. By the end of the module students will be able to take data collected by the instruments they learned to use in Modules 1 and 2 and share it via the Cloud.
  • Module 5 looks at AI and Machine Learning and students will work through 3 projects that introduce key concepts of AI.  The first two projects are fully developed and laid out for students to follow: project 1 sees students build a weather station that uses ML to calculate the likelihood of rain, and in project 2 students build a Genetic Algorithm to derive an optimal strategy for betting in blackjack (note - we are not advocating gambling... quite the opposite: this project demonstrates that it is not possible to win at blackjack and this point is made clearly - in effect this lesson uses AI to prove that you cannot win at blackjack in the real world).  The third project is determined by students themselves - they are encouraged to integrate everything they have learned up to this point to build something meaningful. By the end of this module students understand AI and have built a project that utilises ML services.

Every lesson includes extension activities that dig more deeply into the topics covered and which are perfect for project work or for keeping precocious learners engaged. A series of cross-curriculum experiments help to expand and build on the topics covered in the lessons. With lessons, projects, homework, experiments and quizzes, the full curriculum delivers scores of hours of engaging and fun learning.

There are six categories of extension activities

The program is delivered through MS Teams and takes full advantage of all the great productivity tools available in the Office 365 environment. Educators can take advantage of inline marking, marking rubrics, student progress monitoring and a range of other great built-in features that enhance the  lesson plans and which are designed by and for teachers. 

The lessons in modules 1, 2 and 3 are accessible for students as young as 11, and have been successfully tested with these age groups.  But the lessons contain enough material to engage and challenge older learners too - its up to the teacher to use the elements of the lessons that are suitable to the age group they are teaching.

The XinaBox hardware ecosystem is used to deliver the curriculum. The ease of building circuits with our hardware means that novel digital instruments can used in each lesson without draining valuable learning time. The hardware is an enabler, rather than a central part of the lessons: students use hardware because of the outcomes it enables, rather than as an end unto itself.

Two examples of the sorts of digital instruments learners will build

The cost of delivering the curriculum varies depending on the number of students that you intend to reach, which modules you want to deliver, and the number of classes that share the kit. The cost is 100% capex: no subscriptions, renewals or consumables.  The hardware has proven to be very durable in classrooms so can be reused year-after-year. Calculated over 3 years the per student cost can approach just 20USD. And participating schools have unlimited access to the learning materials. Finally, bear in mind that the hardware is useful across the curriculum, spreading the cost base over more learning time and subject areas.

And with XinaBox you are guaranteed that the hardware will still be relevant in 5 years time: as long as computer circuits are a feature of the digital world the XinaBox system will remain the easiest way to build circuits in a classroom. As new sensors / technology is released it is easy to integrate them into the ecosystem.

Please get in touch if you are interested in getting involved or in learning more about the program.

If you are interested in finding out more about XinaBox:

  • Why not browse our Blogs page to see what we get up to or what is new in the world of XinaBox. We are involved in some pretty cool stuff (e.g. did you know that we have a successful space program?).
  • Our projects landing page links to scores of projects that are full of great ideas for ways in which our hardware can be used.
  • Or check out our full range - we have more than 80 components (we call them xChips) at the moment and the range will continue to grow.