KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) — It's hard to believe, but today's first-graders will go on to be the Class of 2030.
Preparing students to be successful in a fast changing world of technology is challenging, but one classroom Eyewitness News visited is ready for its educational journey to begin.
Eyewitness News visited teacher Sarah Kiser's first-grade class at Mary Ingles Elementary School in Kanawha County to find out what it's doing to prepare the students to succeed.
It's early in the morning and you can feel the excitement in the classroom and see the eagerness on the students' faces.
"I like my teacher and I like lunch!" Becky Smith proclaimed. But beyond the lunch boxes and crayons, Kiser has a big job ahead.
"I want them to have a goal. Go follow that and work for it," she said. She is preparing these 5 and 6 year olds to be the Class of 2030.
"Do you know how old you'll be in 2030?" they are asked. "Seven!" one student shouted.
They are known as Generation Alpha, the first group to entirely be born in the 21st century. They are the children of today's millennials.
"I want to be a vet!" one student said. "A popstar!" "A police!" "A deep sea driver!" All big dreams they say they are ready to accomplish.
A new Microsoft research study said these future leaders will graduate better prepared if they have a strong emotional and social foundation that is developed in a personalized learning environment. The groundwork for the future is being laid right here in first grade.
"Do you know what college you want to go to yet?" Joel Rumberg is asked. "My mom is thinking about it, and she doesn't know which one she wants to sign me up for," Rumberg said with a smile.
"It's a big deal especially when you're thinking about them in 2030 and the amount of technology that we have now and imagine in 11 years how much there will be," Kiser said.
The class already has an iPad for each student, but the future could look a lot different. A study by educational policymakers looking at possibilities by the year 2030 said there is a 62 percent chance that students will be carrying around artificial intelligence devices. There is a 70 percent chance that face-to-face instruction will give way to online courses. Textbooks will be a thing of the past and teaching robots could be a real thing.
For Kiser, it's all about critical thinking and problem solving.
"They have to be quick decision makers and they also have to learn that they can make mistakes and that's OK and they are going to persevere from that," Kiser said.
With the constant reminder that the classroom and learning is rapidly changing.
"You're going to learn from it. You're going to say, 'What can I do different next time so it's going to work out?' " she said when asked for the one piece of life advice she would give her students. "Make mistakes and try again."
Eyewitness News plans to visit the class again when they go to middle school and again when they graduate high school.