Monday, August 12, 2019

Last week, Smarty had a camp on Stanford campus with Digital Media Academy. This organization has all kinds of technology camps but Smarty was only interested in one particular offering - Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. This camp was by far most expensive of all her summer camps but we decided to splurge on it in the hopes that this might expose her to new ideas and maybe increase her interest in coding and computer science.
Overall, Smarty enjoyed the camp despite long hours. We had to leave the house at around 8:10 to make it to Stanford by 9 am and then we were back home by 5:30 pm after an exhausting drive home. Luckily, the camp included two 30 minutes breaks in the morning and in the afternoon, plus an hour for lunch, but Smarty still commented that it was a bit too much time in front of the computer for her. She certainly learned a lot during this short week - she has never even seen Python before the class but she was reasonably comfortable with using it for data manipulation by the end. 
On Friday, students had a "showcase" where they could show their independent projects to parents. Smarty managed not one but three final projects including one pretty interesting try to identify cancerous data tissues. She was able to explain to me the steps that she took to obtain her results - including data import, data clean up, training her AI, and then data analysis. Obviously, she was not an "expert" after just one week working with Python data science packages but I had the impression that she was "getting it".
Every student got an evaluation at the end of the class. Here was Smarty's, and it really cracked me up, "She was so much fun to have in class - she was always the first to raise her hand when I asked the class questions, and most of the time she knew the answer. She asked some great clarifying questions during lecture that I think really helped other students understand the material, and she made sure that I didn't forget to explain a step. We also had some great convos about why people might use AI".
Smarty was pleased with the class and expressed an intention to install this environment on her laptop at home. We'll see if she will actually get to it, because sometimes her intentions and her execution are not "aligned". She also mentioned that she might want to apply for the AI4All program for the next summer - it's a residential program at Stanford for rising 10th grade girls. Of course, it's not a given that she will be accepted but it would be a great step towards learning more about AI (and experience life on campus).

Your Turn

What fun experiences did your kids have this summer?
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MaryAnne said...

Very cool! Mike says that Python is the best beginner programming language for kids to be learning right now. I hear that the AI4All program is great (I know several people who are involved with it)!

Joyful Learner said...

This is something K would be interested in. Too bad so many computer camps are so expensive!