Unplugged K-12 AI Learning: Exploring Representation and Reasoning with a Facial Recognition Game


  • Hansol Lim North Carolina State University
  • Wookhee Min North Carolina State University
  • Jessica Vandenberg North Carolina State University
  • Veronica Cateté North Carolina State University
  • Bradford Mott North Carolina State University




K-12 AI Education, Unplugged Learning Activity, Facial Recognition


With the growing prevalence of AI, the need for K-12 AI education is becoming more crucial, which is prompting active research in developing engaging and age-appropriate AI learning activities. Efforts are underway, such as those by the AI4K12 initiative, to establish guidelines for organizing K- 12 AI education; however, effective instructional resources are needed by educators. In this paper, we describe our work to design, develop, and implement an unplugged activity centered on facial recognition technology for middle school students. Facial recognition is integrated into a wide range of applications throughout daily life, which makes it a familiar and engaging tool for students and an effective medium for conveying AI concepts. Our unplugged activity, “Guess Whose Face,” is designed as a board game that focuses on Representation and Reasoning from AI4K12’s 5 Big Ideas in AI. The game is crafted to enable students to develop AI competencies naturally through physical interaction. In the game, one student uses tracing paper to extract facial features from a familiar face shown on a card, such as a cartoon character or celebrity, and then other students try to guess the identity of the hidden face. We discuss details of the game, its iterative refinement, and initial findings from piloting the activity during a summer camp for rural middle school students.



How to Cite

Lim, H., Min, W., Vandenberg, J., Cateté, V., & Mott, B. (2024). Unplugged K-12 AI Learning: Exploring Representation and Reasoning with a Facial Recognition Game. Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 38(21), 23285-23293. https://doi.org/10.1609/aaai.v38i21.30376