Iridescent launches The Curiosity Machine AI Family Challenge

by William Broman


LOS ANGELES, Oct. 31, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Iridescent, a global STEM education nonprofit, introduces a unique educational initiative: The Curiosity Machine AI Family Challenge. This initiative will empower young people and their families to learn together about artificial intelligence (AI) technology in a project-driven, hands-on way. AI should contribute $14 trillion across 16 industries in 12 developed countries by 2035, according to Accenture and Wells Fargo Securities.

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Iridescent, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), and NVIDIA have partnered on this learning initiative aimed at exposing underrepresented youth and their families to cutting-edge technologies and encouraging them to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and math together. The World Economic Forum estimates that 65 percent of children entering primary school today will work in completely new jobs that don’t exist yet, and Iridescent aims to prepare students and families for this shift.

The Curiosity Machine AI Family Challenge will feature an integrated educational program, curriculum, and competitions to help underserved students and their families understand core concepts of artificial intelligence and apply AI tools to create social good in their communities. In this initiative Iridescent will develop family-friendly AI tools and curriculum, and collaborate with national community partners to bring these to students and families globally, focusing on 3rd-8th grade students and their parents.

This initiative grew out of seed funding provided by NVIDIA to Iridescent to develop their first AI-focused design challenges. Using everyday materials like rubber bands, paper cups, and batteries, the challenges introduce AI concepts such as neural networks and self-driving cars. These challenges, along with others developed over the coming year, will be added to Iridescent’s Curiosity Machine platform, which currently hosts 125+ open-ended, hands-on engineering and computational thinking activities.

With this new Curiosity Machine Family AI Challenge initiative, Iridescent aims to demystify AI and AI tools for students and families and provide early introductions to the technology that is reshaping the workforce and encourage them to continue to learn about and engage with AI. “Moreover, besides children, it will also inspire parents to think of themselves as lifelong learners—empowering them to know more, do more and be more” says Tara Chklovski, CEO and founder of Iridescent.

“AI will one day be integrated into all aspects of life and work, and the Family Challenge is a great opportunity to introduce students to core AI concepts,” said Tonie Hansen, senior director, corporate responsibility, NVIDIA. “The challenge will spark students’ curiosity and critical thinking skills, and get them to think creatively about how they can engage with AI.”

LULAC, the largest and oldest Hispanic organization in the US, will join Iridescent to help reach Hispanic students and families through its community-based programs operating at 1,000+ LULAC councils nationwide.

“LULAC is delighted to be partnering with Iridescent to teach Artificial Intelligence programming to young Latinos and their parents across the country,” stated Brent Wilkes, CEO of the League of United Latin American Citizens. “Through this partnership we will be bringing Iridescent’s excellent AI curriculum to our unparalleled network of Latino education programs.”

The two-to-three year global initiative will kick off in February at the AAAI Conference, with a workshop to engage AI researchers in developing hands-on curriculum, and inspiring 200 local children and families. The Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence has previously partnered with Iridescent to produce a series of video interviews and presentations about AI and its practical applications.

“We’re excited to continue to partner with Iridescent to continue our shared mission of making Artificial Intelligence accessible to all students and families, and look forward to launching this program together in New Orleans in February,” said Subbarao Kambhampati, President of AAAI.

While current Computer Science education is focused on the mechanics of coding, this initiative aims to empower participants with a sense of self-efficacy as an innovator and creator of AI technology, building on a basic understanding of how these technologies are changing their world, but more importantly what role they can play to drive innovation in these areas.

The Curiosity Machine AI Family Challenge will involve many corporations and community partners as sponsors and active participants. Iridescent and its partners are actively recruiting interested groups through February 2018.

About AAAI
Founded in 1979, the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (http://www.aaai.org) is a nonprofit scientific society devoted to advancing the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines. AAAI aims to promote research in, and responsible use of, artificial intelligence. AAAI also aims to increase public understanding of artificial intelligence, improve the teaching and training of AI practitioners, and provide guidance for research planners and funders concerning the importance and potential of current AI developments and future directions.

About LULAC
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit www.LULAC.org.

About Iridescent and Curiosity Machine
Iridescent is a science, engineering, and technology education nonprofit organization that empowers underrepresented young people to become self-motivated learners, inventors, and leaders. Founded in 2006 by CEO Tara Chklovski, more than 100,000 children, parents, mentors, and educators have participated in its two global programs: Technovation, the world’s largest global tech entrepreneurship program for girls, and Curiosity Machine, a unique project-based learning program that inspires students and parents to solve science and engineering problems together.