What are GANs?: Introducing Generative Adversarial Networks to Middle School Students


  • Safinah Ali MIT Media Lab
  • Daniella DiPaola MIT Media Lab
  • Cynthia Breazeal MIT Media Lab




Generative Machine Learning, Generative Adversarial Networks, AI Education, AI Literacy, Games, K-12 AI Education, Curriculum Design


Applications of Generative Machine Learning techniques such as Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) are used to generate new instances of images, music, text, and videos. While GANs have now become commonplace on social media, a part of children’s lives, and have considerable ethical implications, existing K-12 AI education curricula do not include generative AI. We present a new module, “What are GANs?”, that teaches middle school students how GANs work and how they can create media using GANs. We developed an online, team-based game to simulate how GANs work. Students also interacted with up to four web tools that apply GANs to generate media. This module was piloted with 72 middle school students in a series of online workshops. We provide insight into student usage, understanding, and attitudes towards this lesson. Finally, we give suggestions for integrating this lesson into AI education curricula.




How to Cite

Ali, S., DiPaola, D., & Breazeal, C. (2021). What are GANs?: Introducing Generative Adversarial Networks to Middle School Students. Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 35(17), 15472-15479. https://doi.org/10.1609/aaai.v35i17.17821