Iridescent Awarded $625,000 In New Grants To Expand AI Education Programs

Grants from NVIDIA and The Patrick J. McGovern Foundation Will Broaden The Reach of The Nonprofit’s AI Family Challenge and Other AI Resources

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND–(May 30, 2019) – Iridescent, the global technology education nonprofit, announced from the AI for Good Global Summit where it chaired the Education Track, that it was recently awarded $625,000 in new grants from the NVIDIA Foundation and the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation. The funds, which follow an additional $500,000 from, will help the nonprofit expand its AI education programming to reach more students and parents, bring on more mentors, partner with more communities, and develop additional curriculum.

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Technovation Girls Tackle Nearly 2,000 Real-World Problems in Communities Across the World

Girls technology program reaches and empowers girls in new countries and communities in 2019

Technovation - Girls Technology Program - 2019 Season Report

More than 7,200 girls from 57 countries around the world accepted our challenge to identify and solve real-world problems in their communities through technology and entrepreneurship, a 3% increase from 2018. Tackling problems including elder care, CO2 emissions, and more, their perseverance and success reflects the continued excitement and need for hands-on learning programs focused on empowering young girls with a desire to learn. This is felt through the passion and increasing participation of girls in countries like Mexico and Nigeria – where submitted apps increased 60% and 129%, respectively, from 2018 to 2019 – as well as strong submission numbers from the United States, Canada, India, and Kenya. And, a special shout out to Spain with the strongest submission numbers of all participating countries this year.

Interestingly, this year girls completing the challenge were more technologically curious than past participants – more than 95 different programming platforms were used by teams to build their mobile apps including highly rated ones in industry according to Mashable. This indicates an interest in learning to use technology beyond what we offer in the curriculum. MIT’s App Inventor remains the most popular platform to create mobile apps, but Thunkable, a drag and drop mobile app builder for iOS and Android, experienced a 370% increase in submissions built using it compared to last year.

We hope the hard work, creativity, and technical skills the girls have built – combined with more than 23,000 girls across 115 countries who have participated in the Technovation program the previous eight years before them – inspire new girls in communities around the world to become the change they wish to see in the world.

In addition to virtual judging, teams of girls from around the world are participating in 50+ Regional Pitch Events throughout May and June as part of our quarterfinals. At the quarterfinals, the teams demo and pitch their apps and startups live to a panel of judges and event attendees. Following our online semifinals, the top 12 teams will find out they will be traveling to Silicon Valley for Technovation’s 9th World Pitch Summit the week of August 12.

This movement would not been possible without the support of more than 140 Regional Ambassadors, over 3,200 mentors running the programs, 83 student ambassadors, thousands of parents and families, and the dedication of Technovation sponsors including Adobe Foundation,, Uber,, General Motors, Cisco, and numerous other supporters.

Thank you to all the amazing young women who are taking this journey with us this year – and especially the 15% who are returning after participating in previous seasons. You are all winners and world changers to us! And, thank you to everyone who makes this program not only memorable, but life-changing: For our girls, our communities, and our world. Learn how you can get involved.

Meet the first AI World Championship winners!

7,500 families. 200 ideas to change the world. 13 countries. 1 event. Thank you for being a part of it.

We’re fresh from celebrating the end of the first season of the AI Family Challenge at the AI World Championship in California, with 6 finalist families and 6 superstar coaches – and we want to share what we got up over to a long, action-packed weekend, as well as the AI Family Challenge results!

Who was there: Meet the AI Family Challenge Finalists and Coaches

Six finalist families and their coaches joined the Iridescent team in California to meet each other, tour tech companies, learn about AI, and share the ways they’re changing their communities with technology. Learn more about each project and their awards

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Meet the Junior Division families and coaches

The Vega-Hidalgo Family from Bolivia created “Duckweed Vacuum Cleaner” a tool that uses a camera and an image recognition algorithm to identify and then remove the invasive duckweed from Lake Titicaca. Coached by Pamela Gonzales.
Social Impact Award, Junior Division

The Rana Family from Palestine created “My Drawings Speak Up”, a project using image recognition technology to analyze children’s drawings and notify an adult when a child is facing bullying. Coached by Hanaa Zakarna.
Inspiration Award, Junior Division; People’s Choice Award

The Mayet Family from Pakistan created “Cavity Crusher”– a tool whose algorithm uses AI to monitor the amount of time a child actually spends brushing their teeth and help parents keep track of their child’s oral health. Coached by Abdul Rauf.
Technology Award, Junior Division

Meet the Senior Division Teams and coaches

Team De La Paz from the United States created “Shoo”, a dog-deterrent tool that uses a live camera to collect images and pass them through an image recognition algorithm to determine if a dog is in a specified area. If an animal is present, the device emits a high pitched sound that deters it from staying. Coached by Sheila Buttle.
Technology Award, Senior Division

The Pifive Team from Spain created Scoutbot Waterguardian, a wearable device that helps keep kids safe while they swim by using image analysis to detect if a swimmer is at risk of drowning. Coached by Laura Monferrer.
Social Impact award, Senior Division

The Innovators Team from Uzbekistan created “Spiky! Bullying Detector” a mobile app that uses machine learning to analyze communications from a child to guess the probability of bullying. Spiky will send an alert to parents if action is needed. Coached by Saida Yusupova.
Inspiration Award, Senior Division

AI Family Challenge Finalist Family coaches and parents strike a pose

What did families do at the AI World Championship?

The day they arrived, families got to know each other at the welcome dinner where they played, ate, and started to learn about their fellow innovators. Over the next two days families toured Stanford and Facebook (where they practiced their pitches and got feedback and encouragement from Facebook employees), and visited redwood trees at a local park. Finally, on May 18, pitched their ideas live to an audience of supporters, tech employees, and judges at the first AI World Championship pitch night!

AI Family Challenge results

The AI Family Challenge finalists tour Facebook

Our panel of judges included Banu Nagasundaram (Marketing Manager in Intel’s AI Products Group), Allen Rush (Senior Fellow, Radeon Technologies Group at AMD), Michael Palmer (SVP Head of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning & Data at U.S. Bank), Gabriela González (Deputy Director and Operations Manager, Intel Foundation), Brad Neuman (Technical Director of AI, Planning & Navigation formerly at Anki), and Eva Ho (General Partner, Fika Ventures).

AI World Championship Judge Eva Ho talks to the Vega-Hidalgo family about their AI-based solution to a local invasive species problem.

AI World Championship Judge Eva Ho talks to the Vega-Hidalgo family about their AI-based solution to a local invasive species problem.

We were also proud to welcome Jeff Dean, Google Senior Fellow and SVP for Google AI to the event for a Keynote address where he also announced that Iridescent will be receiving an additional $500,000 in funding from The funds will go towards expanding the AI Family Challenge, which begins a second season in August. (If you want to join us for season 2, learn more here!)

Following the keynote, awards were announced and everyone celebrated the end of the first season of the AI Challenge, the hard work of families and coaches around the world, and this community that we’re building together!

Before saying goodbye the next morning, families told us what changes they would like to see in the program, and shared a bit of their culture with each other. (Check out this great dancing!)

We are so proud of all the families who participated in the AI Family Challenge this year and so grateful to the mentors, coaches, judges, and volunteers who made it all possible. Thank you for being part of this adventure with us.

The AI World Championship ended with a moment to reflect on the power of everyone’s ideas to change our communities and our world and how we can light up the future, together.

Iridescent Announces Winners of Inaugural AI Family Challenge World Championship; Secures $500,000 Grant from to Extend The AI Program’s Global Impact

Six Families From Bolivia, Palestine, Pakistan, Spain, The United States and Uzbekistan Win Awards For Using AI To Address Local Problems 

SANTA CLARA, CA; May 20, 2019: Iridescent, a global technology education nonprofit, today announced the winners of its debut AI Family Challenge World Championship, and an additional $500,000 in funding from The championship event, hosted at Intel’s Santa Clara campus, was the culmination of Iridescent’s AI Family Challenge, in which 7,500 people from 13 countries participated in a 15-week program that brings together families, schools, communities and industry mentors to create AI projects that solve local problems.

The winning families came from all over the world, including Bolivia, Palestine, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan, and their projects ranged from image-recognition software to help scan children’s drawings for signs of bullying to a wearable device for kids to use while swimming designed to prevent drowning.

Jeff Dean, a Google Senior Fellow and SVP for Google AI, announced the funding during his keynote address. The funds will support Iridescent’s ongoing AI Family Challenge program, which begins its second season in August.

“AI will only realize its potential to solve some of our biggest problems if we can introduce it to more people all over the world,” said Jeff Dean. “Organizations like Iridescent are vital to the long-term health of AI and prove that by bringing together families, community groups and industry leaders we can create real, lasting change.”

More than 200 families from eleven countries entered projects into the AI World Championship in two divisions: Junior (8-11 years-old) and Senior (12-16 years-old). Finalists then presented their projects to a panel of judges, who evaluated each entry based on ideation, project development, pitch and overall impression.

The winners are:

Junior Division:

  • Technology Award: The Mayet Family, Pakistan, “Cavity Crusher” whose algorithm uses AI to monitor a child’s brush time and determine their oral health habits to notify parents accordingly
  • Social Impact Award: The Vega-Hidalgo Family, Bolivia, “Duckweed Vacuum Cleaner” uses a camera to collect data for its image recognition algorithm aimed at detecting and vacuuming duckweed from Lake Titicaca
  • Inspiration Award: The Rana Family, Palestine, “My Drawings Speak Up” uses image recognition technology to analyze children’s drawings and notify an adult when a child is facing bullying

Senior Division:

  • Technology Award: Team De La Paz, United States, “Shoo” uses a live camera to collect images and pass them through an image recognition algorithm to determine if a dog is in a specified area. If an animal is present, the device emits a high pitched sound that deters it from staying.
  • Social Impact Award: The Pifive Team, Spain, “Scoutbot Water Guardian” is a wearable device that uses an image analysis algorithm to determine if a swimmer is safe. If a person is at risk, the device will send a signal that emits a red light.
  • Inspiration Award: The Innovators Team, Uzbekistan, “Spiky! Bullying Detector” is a mobile app that uses uses machine learning to analyze communications from a child to guess the probability of bullying. Spiky will send an alert to parents if action is needed.

The Rana Family also received the “People’s Choice Award,” the result of open voting from AI Family Challenge participants and supporters from all over the world leading up to the event.

The judges were Gabriela González, Deputy Director and Operations Manager at Intel Foundation; Eva Ho, General Partner at Fika Ventures; Brad Neuman, Technical Director, AI, Planning & Navigation, formerly at Anki; Michael Palmer, SVP of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Data at U.S. Bank; and Allen Rush, Senior Fellow, Radeon Technologies Group at AMD.

“The AI Family Challenge aims to bridge the AI knowledge and confidence gap for children and adults around the world. These families prove that AI can be accessible to everyone,” said Tara Chklovski, founder and CEO of Iridescent. “We want to inspire more people to become lifelong learners, and we have many wonderful partners supporting that mission, providing not only financial support for the program, but also critical mentorship so children and adults alike can start to see themselves in future leadership roles.”

The AI Family Challenge partners with lifelong learning advocates and leading experts in AI, including those from, NVIDIA, Intel, and the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation. Learn more about this year’s finalists, the AI Family Challenge, and sign-up for season two here.

About connects nonprofit innovators with Google resources to solve complex human challenges, and ensure that everyone can participate in the digital economy.

The same technology that makes our lives easier every day can also help solve some of the world’s largest problems.  That’s why we’re applying advanced technology to some of our greatest challenges, like using artificial intelligence to help predict natural disasters. Everyone should be able to participate in the digital economy, so we’re providing digital skills training for job seekers, supporting online safety and media literacy, and investing in computer science education for students — particularly in underrepresented communities. We know that the best answers often come from those closest to the problem. That’s why we join forces with nonprofit innovators, committing Google volunteers, technology, and over $200 million in grants every year to help scale their impact.

About Iridescent

Iridescent is a global technology education nonprofit organization that empowers underrepresented young people to become self-motivated learners, inventors, and leaders. Founded in 2006 by CEO Tara Chklovski, Iridescent has had more than 130,000 children, parents, mentors, and educators participate in its two global programs: Technovation, the world’s largest tech entrepreneurship program for girls, and the AI Family Challenge, a learning program that brings together families, schools, communities and industry mentors to solve real-world problems as they learn and create with artificial intelligence. To learn more, visit


Media Contact

Puneet Sandhu
[email protected]
Bateman Group for Iridescent


Iridescent Adds New Board Members to Assist with Strategic Growth of Organization

New board members’ education, technical, and entrepreneurial acumen will enhance growth and development of organization’s artificial intelligence (AI) and tech entrepreneurship programs for underrepresented youth and families.

Iridescent is proud to announce the addition of Sepi Hejazi Moghadam, Head of Special Projects, University Relations at Google and Rachelle Davis, Senior Software Engineer at Blizzard Entertainment to its board of directors as it continues to build programs for youth and families that spark curiosity in new technologies and create a foundation for lifelong learning.

Iridescent’s board of directors bring diverse experience and perspectives to the direction of the organization as it develops engaging and innovative AI and tech entrepreneurship curricula and training materials that are free and accessible to educators, parents, and mentors worldwide.

Dr. Sepehr Hejazi Moghadam, Head of Special Projects, University Relations at Google incubates programs that improve the experience and outcomes for underrepresented students in computer science at the graduate level. His projects have focused on establishing a deeper understanding of underrepresented groups who choose computer science and the barriers preventing those that do not. He has a PhD in Political Science and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and a Masters in Policy Analysis and Evaluation from Stanford University.

“I am thrilled to join the Iridescent board because the organization shares the same level of commitment I have to empowering young people and their families who have been historically underserved in computer science pathways to be the creators of tomorrow’s innovations that will benefit their communities and the world,” said Hejazi Moghadam.

Rachelle Davis is a Senior Software Engineer on one of Blizzard Entertainment’s incubation teams. Previously, she was a lead engineer on the Hearthstone team where she architected and managed all technical development of new game features for the blockbuster hit digital strategy card game. Rachelle’s journey as an engineer began at the University of California, San Diego where she earned dual Bachelor’s degrees in Mathematics-Computer Science and Interdisciplinary Computing & the Arts. She then received her Master’s of Science in Computer Science with a focus in Games from the University of Southern California.

“I have always been a strong advocate for women in software engineering and women in games,” said Davis. “I could not be more excited to join the Iridescent Board and be a part of empowering young people — especially women — on a global scale to believe in themselves and their futures in technology.”

The organization is also excited to welcome Deena Shakir, a Partner at GV, as a board observer. At GV, Deena supports portfolio companies with their business development and growth opportunities. Prior to joining GV, she led business development for early-stage products at Google in health care, research and machine intelligence, and search. She also spearheaded social impact investments for


“Technologies like automation and AI impact everyone, but too few people currently feel empowered to use these technologies to solve problems in their lives and for their communities,” said Iridescent CEO & Founder Tara Chklovski. “We are excited to add Sepi, Rachelle and Deena’s experience and insights to our board as we aim to inspire more people around the world to become leaders, creators and problem-solvers.”

Call for Proposals: Join the ITU and Iridescent as we determine the future of AI education at the AI for Social Good Summit May 28-31

AIFC Family Challenge SubmissionSample Family Challenge project:  Uses image recognition to spot forest fires as they start and alert authorities

Family building parallel processing design challengeFamily building a hands-on project illustrating parallel processing


The world is changing dramatically as artificial intelligence (AI) is integrated into our society and work so rapidly that it is increasingly known as the 4th Industrial Revolution. Characterized by exponential rates of discovery and adoption, this revolution brings together digital, physical, and biological systems, and like the revolutions of the steam engine, electricity, and computers that preceded it, Artificial Intelligence will change our values as much as the ways we live. A shift of this magnitude will require a shift to a new economic system that accounts for basic human needs and well-being, and in turn it offers (if not demands) an immense opportunity for many different groups to be part of this movement.

Technologies such as AI are powerful tools that can unlock an individual’s potential and amplify a sense of agency and purpose. We not only need to learn more about AI, but also need to understand how to use it responsibly, and how we can improve AI technologies to create the world we wish to live in. To accomplish this, we must reimagine our approach to education.

Education needs to be seen as a lifelong journey everyone has the opportunity to pursue, and through which everyone can develop the skills needed to thrive tomorrow.

There is a need for grass-roots work with adults and children in the most vulnerable and underserved groups, to help them understand how their worlds are changing, what AI is, how some of these technologies work, and what role they can play, now and in the future.

There is a need for innovative, thoughtful, multi-generational programs that foster lifelong learning and knowledge sharing between local communities and AI experts from industry and academia.

There is a need for AI experts to work closely with media and journalists to help them demystify AI for the broader public. We need to move beyond inflammatory terms towards informed and critical debate that advances our understanding of AI’s impact on society and what needs to improve and how.

Finally, we need innovative programs and resources that help us understand the impact of AI technologies on ourselves, our brains, and our behaviors. This is where we need partnerships between bold, self-aware industry partners and neuroscientists, cognitive scientists, psychologists and educators, who can work together to design technology that is not only addictive, viral and lucrative, but also brings out the best of what humans are capable of.

Be part of the conversation about the best way to meet these needs. Submit a proposal to be part of the Education Track at the UN AI for Good Global Summit

Submit a proposal for the UN AI for Good Global Summit

Iridescent invites organizations to join in its efforts to fill important gaps in access, knowledge, agency and skills by submitting a proposal for consideration to present during the education track at the UN AI for Good Global Summit on May 29 in Geneva. Participants will also have the opportunity to be part of the working group developing the final projects launching at the end of the Summit.

Proposal submissions are due Monday, April 15, at 5p GST and should align to 1 of the 5 AI education focus areas:

  • AI in your community: Have you been involved in any initiative that increases awareness of AI technologies in the broader public? Tell us about it! What worked, what didn’t work, what did you learn? How are you going to change your program or efforts this year to make deeper impact? We would love to hear from you!
  • AI literacy in the workplace: Have you been developing or implementing any AI-literacy programs or courses in your organization for your employees or colleagues? We would love to hear what makes an engaging learning/teaching experience and your recommendations for helping people become more curious about AI. We also want to hear about any challenges that you may have encountered providing this experience at scale.
  • Demystifying AI through media: It is a challenge for journalists (especially those without technical backgrounds) to investigate highly complex and rapidly evolving AI stories in a way that doesn’t focus on sensationalist headlines. We want to hear about organizations, journalists, schools, universities that are addressing this issue in innovative ways, and what is working.
  • Our brains on AI-powered devices and games: Young or old, rich or poor, all across the world — we are all increasingly dependent on our smartphones, “daily feeds” from social media, and videogames. In particular the impact of such technologies is not understood/studied in underserved communities. We invite researchers, industry partners and community organizations to share any related work and findings that can help us all further our understanding of what is working, and what should be done next.
  • AI for lifelong learning and creating capabilities: Today AI is powering many “personalized learning systems”. We need to move beyond factual knowledge, skill development, and assessment into preparing learners to become self-driven, creative problem solvers and innovators. We invite organizations and researchers that are working on this cutting-edge technology to share what systems they have created and deployed, lessons learned and recommendations on pushing this frontier!

Submitting organizations will be notified of their selection by Monday, April 22.

Join us as we explore ways we can collectively use and apply AI to improve education in an impactful, sustainable, and ethical way.

About the Track Organizers

Tara Chklovski, the CEO & Founder of global tech education nonprofit Iridescent, is chairing the education track at the UN’s AI for Good Global Summit in Geneva. The track, titled “Reaching and Engaging 21st Century Learners” will explore how education organizations can creatively partner across industry, academia, media and policy makers to keep pace with the breathtaking advances in technology, particularly AI, to make the deepest impact in an agile, sustainable, and ethical way.

How to Demystify AI in the Classroom – Iridescent and NVIDIA at SXSWEDU

Classrooms today are no strangers to coding or robotics―but few classrooms in the US currently teach artificial intelligence, despite AI being applied across almost every industry. Seeing this need developing, in 2017 Iridescent teamed up with NVIDIA to develop a curriculum that would demystify AI for youth, teaching them real-world ways AI can be used for good and introducing them directly to AI tools they can use themselves.

Iridescent CEO Tara Chklovski and Joe Bungo, Deep Learning Institute Program Manager at NVIDIA, recently had the opportunity to discuss this collaboration and share what we’ve learned in the first year of running the AI Family Challenge at SXSWEDU.

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An Interview with Rose Luckin: Using Artificial Intelligence to Support Human Intelligence and Learning

Rose Luckin is a Professor of Learner Centered Design at the UCL Knowledge Lab in London. She researches how educational technology is designed and how it is evaluated. Professor Luckin is particularly interested in using AI to show teachers and students how people learn and how learning is cognitively, socially and emotionally shaped. She is also the Director of EDUCATE, a hub for Ed-Tech startups in London. In 2017, Rose was named on the Seldon List as one of the 20 most influential people in Education.

She recently sat down with Iridescent CEO Tara Chklovski to discuss her work with education technology, the elements of a good problem, and her advice to staying motivated in the face of setbacks.


Rose Luckin. Source: UCL

Tara Chklovski:Thank you so much for talking to me today. Tell me about the problems you work on and why you chose them.

Rose Luckin: My work is really about trying to help individual learners understand more about themselves and develop a more sophisticated understanding of where knowledge comes from, what evidence is and why they should believe something or not. And then, beyond understanding themselves in terms of their knowledge, also understanding themselves in terms of their emotions, social intelligence and awareness of their physicality in the world.

Most of what I do is trying to understand human intelligence and see how we can use artificial intelligence to help support our own intelligence. I find this increasingly involves talking to broad audiences to help people understand what AI is and what it’s good for.

That’s about half of my time. The other half of my time I spend working with startups and small and medium enterprises, some of whom are using AI to develop tools, techniques or methods that can support teaching and learning. I have a program called EDUCATE, which links startups and SMEs to researchers who are working in an area that’s relevant to them and to educators and learners for whom they are trying to develop — trying to raise the quality of the conversation around evidence and how we know if something works.

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