ROBESON COUNTY, N.C. (WBTW) — The Public Schools of Robeson County will introduce artificial intelligence to its middle school art class in the near future after receiving a $4 million grant.

The FRACTAL grant from the U.S. Department of Education will allow teachers to develop lessons using AI and help students build their own computers during a summer camp. FRACTAL is short for Further Rural Adoption of Computer and Technology Through Artistic Lessons.

Susan Miller-Hendrix, the science supervisor for Robeson County schools, said the district has never used AI, which along with the district’s location, is why it was chosen for the grant.

“I want to make sure that our district has every opportunity that some of our larger districts have as well,” Miller-Hendrix said.

Teachers who participate in the program will get a $500 stipend each six months, and although the program is still in its early stages, the district hopes to help students learn to express themselves through technology while also remaining safe from its popular misuses.

“We know technology is constantly changing,” said Jessica Sealey, a spokesperson for the district. “We know there are different ways of course that A-I can be used, and we are working to make sure they are used in positive ways in our classrooms.”

After a curriculum is developed, students will be introduced to AI through four weeklong expeditions.

“We’re excited to see just where they will take this,” Sealey said. “We know that they can really take this and run with it. And, you know, they really are young innovators and our leaders for the future so, who knows the impact this will have.”

Officials said the first stop of starting the program will be surveying teachers to create curriculums that meet their unique needs.

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Aundrea Gibbons joined the News13 team in May 2023 after graduating from Clemson University with bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and communication. Aundrea is a Marion native and graduated as salutatorian in 2019. Follow Aundrea on X, formerly Twitter, and read more of her work here.