Girl Scout Stories
Innovative project prepares students for world of machine learning and artificial intelligence
Kavya Malgi has always had a deep interest in computer science, so
it's easy to see how she got hooked on machine learning and artificial
intelligence. Because these latest technological advances are absent
from her high school curriculum, Kavya learned about ML (machine
learning) and AI (artificial intelligence) through her own research
and later turned her passion into a Gold Award project.
Kavya designed a project that focused on narrowing the gap between traditional education and ML and AI by creating a program for high school students to learn and experience these innovative technologies. With the number of ML/AI-related jobs increasing, there will be a demand for employees who understand machine learning and artificial intelligence, she said.
The Gold Award is the highest award a Girl Scout can earn. Girls are encouraged to pursue projects that address issues that are dear to them and have a sustainable impact on the community. Only Junior and Senior Girl Scouts are eligible to earn the Gold Award. They must devote up to 80 hours to the project. Along the way, they learn valuable skills, including planning, communication, and leadership. They also experience the joy of making a difference, which is what Girl Scouting is all about.
Kavya organized a student club at Jordan High School to implement her project, which enables students of all skill levels to learn about ML and AI using an online platform. Students race small cars that they program using Python language. These cars are driven and tested on a virtual track several times with different outcomes until the program learns the best path to make the car go faster using ML algorithms.
Kavya's father, an architect in the oil and gas field, introduced her to the platform known as Amazon Web Services DeepRacer, a cloud-based 3D racing simulator and fully autonomous 1/18th scale race car driven by reinforcement learning- an advanced machine learning technique. Kavya figured the platform would be a fun and intriguing way to teach students ML skills. Students can build their skills while participating in friendly competitions with students worldwide.
“Being exposed to a program that allowed me to explore more about AI and ML made me determined to take on this project. This project introduced me to AI & ML concepts, and I further learn, practice, and share these skills,” Kavya said. “I want to major in computer science in college and learn to apply AI and ML in the medical field.”
The most challenging part of her project was finding students interested in learning about ML and AI. Many students did not know or understand the concepts, she said. “I gave presentations, and I would create demos and videos for visual understanding, but it didn't help. I reached out to AWS and got more resources and guidance on how to explain it.”
She also invited computer science and engineering professors and students from the University of Houston and the University of Texas at Austin to speak to students in her club. The professors and college students emphasized the importance of building ML skills and how to apply them in the real world. She eventually recruited 10 students to help her implement her project.
During her conversation with AWS product managers, Kavya shared details of her project and how she planned to use AWS DeepRacer to teach her peers ML skills. “They were so impressed with my idea because AWS DeepRacer was intended for working professionals to practice their ML skills,” she said. “In early 2022, AWS created a DeepRacer Student platform so high school and college students around the globe can develop their ML skills in a racing league.”
Kavya also had to opportunity to present project to medical electronics engineering students at Dayananda Sagar College of Engineering in India. She introduced them to ML and AI concepts and DeepRacer. She stays connected with the students through LinkedIn, and they have created an ML/AI community.
Her ML/AI program can be adopted by other schools locally and internationally. “Having clubs and organizations in school can help students gain better skills for the future and support the betterment of our society,” Kavya said.