Hands-On AI Activities Welcome Parents to the World of Technology

“[Today’s activities] showed us that math and science can be very fun; when you work as a team you can accomplish anything.”  – Flodinita Santillan, Parent


Shifting From Fear to Fun

“We had fun racking our brains to figure out how to complete each activity and they liked it! This really gave me an idea of the engineering field.” – Bianca Loaiza, parent

While AI isn’t new, the media’s sudden focus on it – good and bad – has brought it to everyone’s attention. The perception of AI-driven machines is both, embraced and shunned, for its potential impact on society. Arizona has been especially ridden with fear after an incident in March where a self-driving car killed a woman.

When Iridescent’s Founder and CEO, Tara Chklovski, asked the girls and their families who found AI mysterious and scary, a room full of hands shot into the air. Tara explained that we are not familiar with positive instances of AI in action because these examples, such as video games or search engines, are so integrated into our everyday lives we don’t recognize them as AI.

“We are afraid of what we don’t understand” – Tara Chklovski

As AI conversations continued throughout the day, parents began contributing their ideas and perspectives on the subject. One mother compared AI to dishwashers. She explained that dishwashers are machines that can free up time for people by washing dishes more efficiently. AI technology and machines will perform more complex tasks, but will similarly assist society by giving people valuable time to focus on more important things.

Empowering Parents as Educators

If parents are able to understand concepts related to cutting-edge technology like AI, they can build their own self-efficacy as STEM learners and educators. When they have access to tools and resources for learning, they are equipped as STEM learners and educators beyond the classroom.

“The training and activities were very interesting. Personally, I think that they will be very useful for me when I am at home with my family. I’ve learned how to support my children with things they find difficult.” – Bernardo Aguilar, parent

Parents with limited education may have a low sense of confidence regarding helping their children with homework, as they may lack the core skills needed. This can have a cyclical effect if the child is struggling, resulting in the parents feeling even more underconfident. A key lever that can disrupt this cycle is to empower parents to learn alongside their child, modeling curiosity and a love for lifelong learning.

Through Iridescent’s training, parents learned how to support their child’s learning at home by fostering a growth mindset (encouraging effort, instead of emphasizing grades) – in their children (and in themselves), asking open-ended questions and learning about the engineering design process. For example, parents were given the following scenario:
“Your child gets home with an ‘A’ on her exam. How would you react to this situation? What would you tell your child? With much pride they tell you ‘You see! I don’t have to study because I’m so smart!’”
As parents began discussing the situation together, many wrestled with the question. One conflicted mother said this was a difficult situation. Even though she wants her child to do well in school, her child will not really learn if she does not develop the patience and perseverance to always study for her exams, even when she may fail a test some day. Iridescent’s training showed how parents from underserved communities, who are well-versed in the principles of resilience and hard work, can instill these behaviors and attitudes at home with their children.

Learning AI Together

By the end of the day, parents who initially felt incapable of supporting their children became confident in helping their children tackle projects around parallel processing and self-driving cars. The same topics that had led to a roomful of raised hands expressing fear and uncertainty, became an opportunity to connect, communicate, and create as they learned AI together. To learn more about our parent training resources and the AI Family Challenge, check out the following links:

“This course was interesting for my daughter and had a big impact on me. We hope that there continues to be more courses like this so that my daughter will continue to grow her interest [in AI] even more.” – Marco Preciado, parent

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