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Nurturing Curiosity, Breaking Barriers: The Story of PosAI

Explore the impactful story of young change makers from Digital Moment's Social Innovation Lab and their project, PosAI.

Linh Kim
January 23, 2024

This fall, we caught up with a group of young changemakers from the first-ever cohort of the Social Innovation Lab, one of Digital Moment’s three educational initiatives. Their project, PosAI, is a one-stop-shop application for underrepresented youths, aimed at personalizing and optimizing their learning journey through AI, ultimately lowering the barrier to education. As usual, we were left inspired and bewildered in ways we didn’t expect by the insights shared by these young minds.

Education extends beyond schools

It became clear to the group early on in the project that education is the cornerstone of all things. Education, to the youths, transcends the four walls of a classroom. It is a lifelong skill one must have to continuously enhance their understanding of the world.

“Education is power. Not simply education in the traditional sense, but education as in learning things that could expand your world and open up new opportunities for your jobs and outlook on life.”– shared 17-year-old Brianna.

From fundamental knowledge to nuanced social debates, we must all stay curious learners and possess the ability to observe, reflect, think and engage critically with the world around us.

From empathy to action: the path to creating meaningful changes

In designing PosAI, the team embraced the framework of Design Thinking, a collaborative and iterative framework for problem-solving that put users’ needs at the center. Their persona was a tapestry made of different threads of their own lives: Maya, a 17 year-old youth from a lower-income background, struggling with family responsibilities that education became second priority.

Reflecting on the journey, the hardest part was to identify which was the main challenge to solve. Amidst all the noises and the backstories, all they wanted was to set youths like Maya up for a brighter future. Through discussions and visualization tactics using not-so-uncommon tools, they succeeded in identifying the root cause:

“We had sticky notes, and we were writing all these problems and sticking them to the wall. And at some point, we looked back and we said, "what do they all have in common?" We decided to focus on the grand scheme of things, which was the great barrier to education.”– shared 17-year-old Isabelle.

This quickly became the north star that guided the team throughout.

Sticky notes on whiteboard
Brainstorming with sticky notes

The recipe for success? Diversity, respect, and a whole load of fun!

Some of the team members came from Canada; others did not. And yet, they felt like one.

“We went to the beach a couple of days ago,” recounted Isabelle, “and there was someone who came in and asked us where we were all from. And we realized, all of us were from somewhere different, but we still connected that well. I appreciate that so much, and I feel like that was one of the best things to come out of the Lab.”

When asked about the formula for effective collaboration, shared values and respect were two key ingredients:

“If someone gave an idea, we wouldn't say it was bad or bash it. We would always take every idea into consideration. And I think that was very valuable, because how can you come up with good ideas if you don't consider different ideas?”– shared 17-year-old Abdullah.
“A big thing was about constructive criticism.”, added Brianna, “Even when someone gave an idea that wasn’t the best, there's always something in there that we could use, that’s important. We break that idea apart and figure out what is good with it and what is not. So actively, we analyze ideas and really try to dissect them.”

But most importantly, it is the unreasonable amount of curiosity that keeps the team going:

“We all tried to get everyone involved and get everyone to participate actively. But for the most part, it came naturally, because we were really interested in seeing how far this project could go.”– concluded Abdullah.

What do we do with all this information?

When asked about their confidence level in participating in discussions around AI and ethics as a result of the Lab, the teens all shared a sense of grounded confidence:

“We had a week and a half long intensive AI courses on dealing with the ethical implications of AI, so I feel like we know a decent amount. But there's always more to learn and I'm in no way an expert yet.”– shared Brianna.

To empower and inspire, to spark and nurture curiosity and a humble admiration for new knowledge is ultimately the goal of the Social Innovation Lab and all initiatives under Digital Moment. That, equipped with an aspiration to do good is what shines through through the words of these young changemakers:

“As a kid, I always had this idea that business people were very alike: they only focused on money and profit. But the more I've observed different businesses and the more I got to work on projects like this, I've come to realize that the only way a business could do well and be successful is if people are benefiting from it. So inherently, a marketable business should make the world a better place. That idea really set in for me when we worked on this project.”– shared Abdullah.

So, what’s next?

PosAI was one of the projects born out of the Social Innovation Lab’s first cohort. The Social Innovation Lab empowers youth from all backgrounds to develop innovative, creative solutions with technology to pressing social challenges in a welcoming, youth-led environment. Young minds are brilliant in ways we could never imagine, and we cannot afford to miss out on youth voices from diverse backgrounds. That is why our unwavering commitment lies in providing equal opportunities to underrepresented youths, investing in their potential through quality education, and placing trust in their ability to pave the way forward.

Make sure to check out the Social Innovation Lab’s website for all latest updates!

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