Microsoft challenges Australian students to use AI to solve social and environmental issues with launch of national competition

A teacher supervising her students.

Microsoft AI for Good Challenge now accepting submissions from teachers and students

Microsoft Australia and professional learning organisation, Education Changemakers, are calling on teachers and local high school students to enter a new national competition – the AI for Good Challenge – to learn about artificial intelligence (AI) and engage with it confidently and ethically, by developing ideas for AI solutions to help tackle real world social and environmental challenges. 

Now open for submissions, the AI for Good Challenge asks students (in groups of two or three) to come up with an AI concept that could make an environmental or societal difference under the categories of AI for Accessibility, Earth or Humanitarian Action.

Focused on design thinking rather than technology tools, the AI for Good Challenge is a learning opportunity for all students, not just those with a strong grasp of technology. It encourages students in Years 7 – 12, across all disciplines, to think of ways in which AI could help solve some of the biggest issues facing society today.

In partnership with Education Changemakers, Microsoft has built curriculum aligned to the Australian Curriculum standards aimed at supporting and educating teachers first, then students.

“As an organisation we believe AI is one of the most powerful new technologies to emerge in recent years, and we are eager to support teachers and students across the country to both understand and recognise its potential,” Steven Miller, director of education, Microsoft Australia said.

“We’ve designed this challenge so that every teacher and student can participate, regardless of their prior knowledge of AI and technology. No coding experience is required! With AI likely to play a strong role in future careers, we want young Australians to learn the skills today to future proof their careers for tomorrow in a way that is engaging and fun. We can’t wait to see what AI solutions Aussie students come up with to tackle some of society’s greatest challenges.”

Students are encouraged to enter ideas across the following three categories:

  • Accessibility – apply AI to help amplify human capability for more than one billion people globally with a disability
  • Earth – help solve global climate issues by improving the environment and the way humans engage with nature
  • Humanitarian Action – help support disaster recovery, address the needs of children, protect displaced people, and promote human rights through the application of AI

David Faulkner, CEO and co-founder of Education Changemakers says, “The aim of the AI for Good Challenge curriculum is to equip teachers with the right tools to then engage them to skill their students in AI technology. The curriculum is designed for a broad range of subject areas, as well as engaging resources to embed into lessons.

“We’ll be working closely with local teachers to educate them on AI and help them roll out this challenge in classrooms across the country. As part of the AI for Good Challenge, we are also encouraging teachers to attend the hackathons and webinars we are running in conjunction with the challenge over the coming months.”

Teachers who are interested in participating in the AI for Good Challenge can sign up by taking the following steps:

  • Register your school here
  • Review the teacher resources here
  • Work with your students in teams of 2-3 to dream up an AI concept that makes a difference under the categories of AI for Earth, Accessibility or Humanitarian Action
  • Submit your AI solution here

Submissions for the AI for Good Challenge close June 21. The students’ ideas will then be assessed by judges who will shortlist the best submissions for state finals held in July, followed by national finals on the August 16.

For more information on the AI for Good Challenge including teacher resources, prizes and information on how you can get involved, visit https://aiforgood.com.au/

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