FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (WKRG) — Students at nine different Okaloosa County schools will be some of the first in Florida to learn artificial intelligence in classrooms.
The Okaloosa County School District is one of two districts to offer the A.I. curriculum in the 2022-23 school year. OCSD said they have a one-of-a-kind program unlike any other in the region.
AMPD is the curriculum program title under the University of Florida. The acronym stands for Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Python and Data Science.
Starting in middle school, kids can earn coding certification through Python programming. The students will be able to then program machines such as robots, vacuum cleaners and even cars.
Dottie Holland will be teaching the first group of high schoolers at Choctawhatchee High School in Fort Walton Beach. The class is open to all grades to learn the basics of programming.
“In this first course, they’re going to be learning the main language that people are using today for artificial intelligence, which is Python coding language,” said Holland. “It is a very powerful language. It’s easy to learn, easy to use. It’s great for beginners and they can take data and turn it into information just by programming a computer with Python.”
Schools to offer this program include Choctawhatchee High School in Fort Walton Beach along with Bruner, Davidson, Destin, Meigs, Pryor, Shoal River and Ruckel middle schools.
The program will be expanded to Crestview High School for the 2023-24 school year.
The district said these courses will directly impact Okaloosa County. With a large air force presence, kids with technology certifications and experience out of high school can enter the workforce.
“The ultimate goal of this program is to equip our students with a decision. They can take the path of academia and study it even further, or they can go straight into the workforce,” said Holland. “With us being as close to the Air Force that we are, they are always looking for interns that have Python programming language skills and this was a need that we saw in our community. I know from going and meeting other Python developers this past summer, that it’s needed all over the world.”
More than 200 students have signed up for AMPD 2022-23 school year. Holland said if more students and parents are interested in the AMPD program, contact OCSD or the school directly.
“We are so excited about this. Excited that we are able to bring this school that is turning 70 years old this year into the 21st century. Equipping our students with the most powerful programming language will open doors for kids that weren’t open when we were kids,” said Holland. “There’s so much that our kids could do, so much our students can conquer if they just have a little bit of knowledge, a little bit of push, and someone to stand behind them and tell them you can do this.”
OCSD is looking for industry partners for the four-year rollout plan. Students in their fourth year will be in a capstone project to gain experience programming with local companies. For more information on the industry board, contact OCSD.