Summer CSGC Grant Update: Guiding Youth Exploration in Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence

With an growing presence of artificial intelligence (AI) in our world, it’s now more important than ever to learn about AI and how we can both reap the benefits and avoid the pitfalls. Since AI only gained traction recently, many members of the general public lack education on how deep learning programs truly work (Chatbots like ChatGPT, image recognition, Google services, etc.). Furthermore, many local middle and high schools are unable to fund classes on ML and AI, so I hope my workshop can introduce these highly relevant topics to students. Thus, my workshop aims to get students excited about AI by breaking down the murkiness that surrounds AI in the media step by step.

Throughout June, I collaborated with UC Davis CS professor Xin Liu and adapted her AIBridge curriculum to create a curated yet broad set of lectures, demos, tasks, and personal projects covering python, machine learning classification and regression algorithms, and how to improve confusion matrices. As I develop my curriculum, I’ve created demos and tasks regarding the technical/hardware side of machine learning while grounding my lesson plans in the theoretical/conceptual; for instance, I coded example python software to transform a Raspberry Pi into a “robot” that can perform image recognition and sustain a conversation. I hope to bring this physical model to my workshop so that students can see how lines of code they write can translate to actual functioning machines. I’ll encourage students to test their own code with the Raspberry Pi, for the transformation from static code on a computer screen to artificially intelligent machines that can detect facial expressions is informative in and of itself. The final project I designed allows participants to pick their own datasets, train corresponding models, and work on their accuracy, granting them a sense of independence and achievement that is crucial for building confidence in beginner coders.

After outreaching to the local community via library flyers, Facebook groups, and contacting local middle and high schools, I will begin my first workshop session in mid-July and end around August for a total of 8 workshop hours. Through a joint effort with librarian Cecelia Jezek, I will be able to offer my workshop sessions and loan computers to the students who do not have access to a computer at home, opening up opportunities for kids to explore coding and AI, subjects that would’ve been otherwise unavailable.

-Alice ’24