Mr Chee Hong Tat, Guest of Honour and Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry & Ministry of Education, addressing students at the closing ceremony of Caltex Fuel Your School–Tech Jam 2019 (Image: Chevron)

Caltex Fuel Your School – Tech Jam 2019: 1,200 kids teach AI a bit of humanity to help tackle everyday problems

How do you teach artificial intelligence (AI) humanity? That’s the challenge some 1,200 students aged 11 to 16 tried to tackle at the ‘Caltex Fuel Your School – Tech Jam 2019’ program on Thursday (30 Oct), organized by the Science Centre Singapore in partnership with Caltex Singapore.

In the midst of designing emotionally sensitive chatbots, a “junk food recognizer”, and pondering solutions to reduce plastic waste, these junior innovators also grappled with advanced concepts such as fundamental AI theories, machine learning with coding, engineering, and design.

The ‘Caltex Fuel Your School – Tech Jam’ program comprised of half-day workshops designed to encourage the growth of Smart Nation capabilities in AI among youth. Themed “AI for Life” and held over five days this month, the program empowered students from 16 schools to customize learning journeys according to their team’s interest and aptitude.

Self-directed modules incorporated a fun gamification platform that blended game mechanics with traditional e-learning activities. Industry mentors and employee volunteers were also at hand to guide students through roadblocks.

Students from Meridian Primary Schoolbuilding an AI chatbotat Caltex Fuel Your School–Tech Jam 2019 (Image: Chevron)

“I enjoy both physics and math as it teaches me how there are many ways a problem can be solved. I had a great time at Caltex Fuel Your School – Tech Jam, interacting with my peers and knowledgeable mentors who guided my team and I, and kept my passion for Artificial Intelligence burning! I wish to learn more, so that I can fulfill my future ambition of creating a medical robot that diagnoses patients in the future,” said Kalva Sai Lokesh, 15-year-old participant of the program, from Yuvabarathi International School.

“Math and science are my favourite subjects in school, and they have always fascinated me. I’m particularly interested in app development and coding, which I find to be an extremely gratifying process. My teammates and I found the Caltex Fuel Your School – Tech Jam both educational and enjoyable, especially because of the interesting prototypes that we were tasked to build. I hope to pursue a future in engineering, following in my father’s footsteps, and increase the number of women in STEM,” commented Putsi Megha, 15-year-old participant of the program, from Yuvabarathi International School.

Students from Yuvabarathi International School building an AI chatbotat Caltex Fuel Your School–Tech Jam 2019 (Image: Chevron)

At the closing ceremony, Guest-of-Honour Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry & Ministry of Education encouraged students to explore new ideas and have a passion for lifelong learning.

“For Singapore to further strengthen our position as a trusted global hub for testing and deploying AI solutions, we need inquisitive innovators to harness AI for practical solutions that benefit our community. The development of such talent must start from efforts in schools to nurture our young,” said Mr Chee.

Mr Chee Hong Tat, Guest of Honour and Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry & Ministry of Education, addressing students at the closing ceremony of Caltex Fuel Your School–Tech Jam 2019 (Image: Chevron)

The program’s impact also extends to building capacity of local educators. According to Chief Executive of Science Centre Singapore, increased interest from teachers keen to improve their awareness of AI solutions prompted Science Centre to pilot a train-the-teacher workshop on 31 October.

The aim is to equip educators with tools to enhance their delivery of any classroom curriculum, including science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

For Caltex Singapore, General Manager of Products Shahid Ahmed shared that promoting education for critical thinking and problem-based learning remains a focus area for parent company Chevron and its brand Caltex.

“It’s inspiring to see how our partnership with Science Centre Singapore continues to find new ways to excite students about STEM learning, empowers teachers, and helps make our communities stronger,” noted Mr Shahid.

Mr Shahid Ahmed, Chevron’s General Manager for Products in Singapore, addressing students at the closing ceremony of Caltex Fuel Your School–Tech Jam 2019 (Image: Chevron)

At its core, artificial intelligence is the ability of a computer program or machine to think and learn. With AI tools becoming increasingly more accessible, a dedicated open weekend was held at the Science Centre to encourage members of the public to get better acquainted with AI technology.

Some 100 adults and kids aged 7 and up used simpler self-directed modules to create chatbots and more. If you missed it, presentation of your CaltexGO transaction history still gets you 20% off general admission to Science Centre Singapore until 31 October 2019.

‘Caltex Fuel Your School – Tech Jam 2019’ was made possible through the support of the local motoring community. Caltex raised $60,000 following a pledge to contribute $3, up to a cap, for every qualifying fuel transaction using the CaltexGO mobile app at service stations nationwide from 13 September- 13 October 2019.

The signature community program is part of Chevron’s overall support for education, which has totaled over $480 million worldwide since 2013.