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Big Deals—Khan Academy Boosts National Civics Bee, AI Tackles Campus Safety, and Stanford Offers Online Math


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation this month announced the launch of the 2024 National Civics Bee. The competition is expanding to 27 states for the 2023-2024 school year, tripling its reach from nine states last year. Students may apply for the competition here. The deadline to enter is January 8, 2024.

The National Civics Bee is a nationwide competition that encourages young Americans to engage in civics and contribute to their communities. Middle school students in grades 6-8 flex their civics knowledge for a chance to win recognition and cash prizes. Chambers of commerce across 27 states will host in-person contests in their communities this school year. Top performing students will advance through local and state rounds, culminating in a national competition held in Washington D.C.

This remarkable expansion reflects the deepening civics education crisis in America and has been made possible by significant multi-year grants from supporters like the Daniels Fund. Recent studies have shown alarming gaps in Americans’ understanding of our democratic processes and systems. More than one third of U.S. adults cannot name the three branches of government. The National Civics Bee taps into business leaders’ deep commitment to strengthening civics education and the long-term health of our democracy.

“We are sounding the alarm on the declining civic knowledge among our nation’s youth,” said Carolyn Cawley president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “The National Civics Bee is designed to showcase the knowledge and skills all of us need to thrive in the 21st Century. We encourage students, parents, and teachers nationwide to visit our website and sign up today. Let’s work together to address this crisis in civics education.”

National Civics Bee Teams Up With Khan Academy

This year, for the first time, students who advance to the local competitions will receive free tutoring support through Khan Academy’s new AI-powered tutor and teaching assistant, Khanmigo. The pilot of this technology will allow these students to be some of the first in the nation to use the power of AI for education, starting with learning foundational knowledge about civics. Khanmigo includes important guardrails to encourage proper use of the innovative AI tool.

“We are excited to help students practice for the National Civics Bee through quizzing and conversations with Khanmigo,” said Kristen DiCerbo, Khan Academy’s chief learning officer. “These interactions will be richer than traditional practice activities and we look forward to seeing the learning that happens.”

How to Apply for the 2024 Competition

Enrollment for the 2024 National Civics Bee is now open. Sixth, seventh, and eighth graders in participating states are invited to submit a 500-word essay addressing a community issue. The submission period is open through January 8, 2024. The full list of participating states can be found on the map available at this link.

A panel of judges will review the essay submissions and the top 20 students will move on to their local competition to show off their civics knowledge. The top local winners will then advance to a state competition, and state champions will compete in the national round in Washington, D.C., for a chance to win the national title and more than $50,000 in prizes.

“The National Civics Bee is an opportunity for middle school students to gain a deeper understanding of our nation in a fun, engaging way. Continued collaboration among philanthropies, community leaders, elected officials, educators, and parents is essential if we’re to reprioritize civics education as a nation and protect our institutions and system of government,” said Hanna Skandera, president and CEO of the Daniels Fund. “As we focus our efforts on expanding the National Civics Bee to students in all 50 states, we are grateful for partners like those at the U.S Chamber of Commerce Foundation and Khan Academy who are diligently working to make it possible.”

You can learn more and sign up to participate in the National Civics Bee by visiting this link. You can watch this video for key highlights from the 2023 competitions.


High school students in need of advanced mathematics courses need look no further than Stanford University. Stanford Pre-Collegiate University-Level Online Immersive, a unit of Stanford Online High School, has launched Multivariable Calculus and Linear Algebra, an online course based on recently developed curriculum for first-year Stanford students.

This challenging mathematics course prepares students for further studies in engineering, computer science, data science, and natural sciences, as well as theoretical mathematics. Students taking the course will earn five units of Stanford University Continuing Studies credit, which can be used to place out of required courses in college at the discretion of the receiving institution. Students who have completed this course will be well-prepared to take classes in ordinary differential equations and more advanced linear algebra. 

“This ULO-Immersive class is designed to provide resources for advanced high school students to proceed well beyond what their school can offer,” said Dr. Rafe Mazzeo, Cassius Lamb Kirk Professor of Mathematics at Stanford University and Faculty Director of Stanford Online High School. “This course follows a high level curriculum developed in my department to prepare Stanford undergraduate students for math, data science, AI, engineering, and all other quantitative disciplines. Linear algebra and the optimization techniques introduced in this course are fundamental for almost every application of math, particularly in data science and AI. This course is a prerequisite for many Stanford computer science and engineering courses. We are happy that it is now available to high school students.”

The course format is partially synchronous. Students will listen to two to three recorded Stanford faculty lectures per week, while also attending two synchronous online sessions in which the course instructor will expand on the material, and facilitate group discussion and work. Students should expect five hours per week of live online class time, and up to four hours of homework. 

Stanford University-Level Online (ULO) courses were first created in the mid-1990’s as part of the Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY). A portion of EPGY was a fully-accredited, diploma-granting, online independent school for students in grades 7-12 which is now known as Stanford Online High School. 

The ULO program offers university-level mathematics and science courses to students who do not attend Stanford Online High School. The Multivariable Calculus and Linear Algebra course is the inaugural offering in the “Immersive” branch of the ULO program (ULO-I). Immersive courses are more rigorous than other ULO courses, which are asynchronous and designed for students to work through at their own pace. 

“We are honored to offer high school students the opportunity to take Stanford University-Level Online courses with other highly motivated, math-minded high school students,” said Dr. Tomohiro Hoshi, Head of Stanford Online High School. “When a higher level math curriculum is unavailable at their local school, we are able to offer them other options: Apply now to take this ULO-I Multivariable Calculus and Linear Algebra course or an asynchronous ULO course in the spring 2024 term, or apply to Stanford OHS to take post-AP Calculus math classes next fall.” 

Apply now for the spring semester, beginning Monday, January 29, 2024, and running until May 17, 2024. Applicants will be required to submit a transcript or other evidence demonstrating proficiency in single variable calculus at the level of AP Calculus BC or equivalent. They must also submit a recommendation letter from a math instructor, and be under the age of 18. The tuition fee is $4,900 for the course, and financial assistance is available to those who submit a financial aid application by December 6, 2023. To learn more and apply for the Multivariable Calculus and Linear Algebra course, visit https://ulo-i.stanford.edu/


SparkCognition, a global leader in B2B artificial intelligence (AI) software solutions, today announced that Boerne Independent School District (ISD) deployed the company’s computer vision solution to assist with situational awareness for scenarios that could compromise campus safety. The initial focus included understanding building access, leveraging SparkCognition’s Visual AI Advisor to identify and alert school officials to unauthorized door access or use at Kendall Elementary School. Located in Boerne, TX, Boerne ISD is a PK-12 school district with over 10,000 students across 12 campuses.

“At Boerne ISD, we remain committed to the safety and well-being of our students, educators, and staff,” said Rick Goodrich, Chief of Safety and Security at Boerne ISD. “By using SparkCognition’s Visual AI Advisor, we were able to complement and extend our safety measures, providing proactive alerts to our staff and ensuring the building access security.”

Over 353,000 students have been exposed to gun incidents since Columbine, with 1,924 school shooting incidents since 1970, growing year over year. “Traditional school safety measures are reactive in nature and have fallen short of expectations,” said Stephen Gold, CMO at SparkCognition. “Whether it’s identifying an open door, dangerous weapon, or student needing medical attention, SparkCognition’s Visual AI Advisor can run dozens of use cases on a single camera providing instantaneous alerts, alarms, and designated actions.”

SparkCognition Visual AI Advisor is a secure and proactive computer vision solution that leverages existing cameras to analyze situations in real-time and provide actionable alerts. It scales to thousands of cameras using a low-code/no-code integration framework and deploys at the edge, ensuring privacy and enterprise security. Visual AI Advisor has been contracted on over 147,000 cameras across 16 countries, and features 125+ pre-built use cases for safety, security, operational efficiency, quality control, and situational awareness.

About SparkCognition

SparkCognition’s solutions allow organizations to predict future outcomes, prescribe next actions, empower people, and protect assets. We partner with the world’s industry leaders to analyze, optimize, and learn from all types of data, augment human intelligence, drive profitable growth, and achieve operational excellence. Their patented AI technologies include machine learning, deep neural networks, natural language processing, generative AI, and computer vision—enabling productivity, innovation, and accelerating digital transformation. To learn more about how SparkCognition’s AI solutions can unlock the power in your data, visit www.sparkcognition.com.

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