Local News Matters weekly newsletter
Start your week with a little inspiration. Sign up for our informative, community-based newsletter, delivered on Mondays with news about the Bay Area.
There is a new dynamic space where high school and college students anywhere in the country can learn about artificial intelligence (AI), and it exists thanks to the work of four Bay Area teenagers.
University of California, Berkeley sophomores Kelly Ma and Jaeyeon Bae, and recent graduates of Alameda and Dougherty Valley High Schools Kaleen Chen and Stella Chen are the founders of CreAItivity, an organization that produces educational material about AI through e-zines, virtual workshops and labs. Any college or high school student can sign up online to join workshops or access articles.
“This is a small impact, but one person impacted is one person educated,” said Stella Chen. “If we could somehow attract more people into this field and show them a glimpse of what AI can do, I think that’s a great thing.”
The founders met at an AI summer camp at UC Berkeley in 2019 and bonded over their shared desire to create a space where high school and college students could learn about AI.
“We were all trying to get into computer science and AI, but we were struggling to find a sense of community, especially after the summer (camp),” Chen said. “We were like, ‘Maybe we should create an organization.’ And that’s how (CreAItivity) got started.”
The young women’s latest project includes creating a virtual “AI Ethics Lab” where students learn about ethical issues within the AI field. More than 130 students from around the country participated in the lab, which ran from March to May 2021.
Vishal Vijay, a junior at Dougherty Valley High School and lab attendee said AI experts were invited to lead workshops on topics such as algorithmic bias and data privacy, encouraging students to find potential solutions.
“(The lab) was very all-inclusive. Every week they hosted workshops and brought AI (experts) to teach us and help develop our projects,” Vijay said. “Not only was the environment good, but the people were all nice … and helpful.”
Victoria Belveal, a junior at South High School in Torrance, is among the 95 percent of attendees who said that their interest level in AI ethics rose after participating in the lab.
“I didn’t really know much going (into the lab) — I couldn’t even define AI,” Belveal said. “I think the lab really taught me so much and it’s so beneficial.”
Belveal said she heard about the lab in a digital newsletter from DiversifyOurNarrative, an organization that promotes racial equality in school curricula nationwide. Chen said the four CreAItivity founders partnered with the organization to promote the lab.
Vijay said the lab was more than a learning space, it was an “inclusive place” where people with different backgrounds could connect with one another.
“(The founders) really made everyone feel part of the organization … and people felt aware about what was going on (during the lab),” Vijay said.
Belveal said she is grateful the organization allowed her to meet people from different parts of the country and hopes to participate in future labs and workshops.
“I love their mission and I’m 100 percent for it,” Belveal said. “Whatever they do I know it’s going to be great.”