Social Impact Internships: Jason Li (’26)

Hello! My name is Jason, and I am a freshman from Houston, Texas. I interned at The Coding School this past January doing curriculum development. I have always been interested in education, so I was very happy to join The Coding School on their Machine Learning and AI Initiative,

Over the course of IAP, I was developing a “no-code” project for The Coding School. A lot of students do not have access to quality STEM education, particularly in AI or ML. I want to create a platform for students to ease into a hardcore field like Machine Learning, so I utilized Google’s Teachable Machine to make a fun Image Recognition project.

I put quite a lots of thought into what type of project I want to develop for students. In order to find the best solution, I decided to put myself in the shoes of a student that has a very minimal CS background. How would they approach subjects like ML and AI? Well, I would be terrified if I was them. If I was someone that barely understands CS… which does sound like me (only taken one CS course in my entire life), I would want to learn from the bigger picture. Preferably with more context than actual coding. 

To make ML more accessible, I decided to find a relatable theme and throw them at students. I ended up choosing the “Muffin vs. Chihuahua” meme. 

When presented with a collage of Chihuahuas and Muffins, could you tell if this is a Chihuahua or Muffin? In most cases, yes. In some cases, it is a bit difficult. Humans can surely be able to make the correct judgment, but could I train a computer to do so?

I thought this was a pretty funny idea, so I began gathering images of Muffins and Chihuahuas to train my Machine Learning model. This part of the project made my internship very fun, especially when I presented to the rest of the team. I figure this would be the same way when students see my project in their class. Light-hearted minimal coding project that does a great job teaching Machine Learning concepts like data bias and reinforcement learning.

I think I enjoy making an impact on someone else’s life. From tutoring and being a mentor to underclassmen in high school, to creating projects for thousands of students across the world with TCS, I came to realize maybe social service is my thing. However, It would take a lot of time for me to determine where that may be. It could be in the government, the military, non-profits, or private corporations. Only time could tell! 

Tags: Social Impact Internships, Social Impact Internships IAP 2023

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