Teens in AI – Bulgaria: Inspiring teens to explore careers in tech and AI
The Teens In AI initiative, launched at the AI for Good Global Summit at the UN in May 2018, exists to inspire the next generation of ethical AI researchers, entrepreneurs and leaders who will shape the world of tomorrow.
The initiative aims to democratise AI and create opportunities for underrepresented talent and give young people and especially girls early exposure to AI which is being developed and deployed for social good.
Main activities, outreach and mission
Through a combination of hackathons, accelerators and bootcamps together with expert mentoring, talks, company tours, and networking opportunities, the programme creates a platform for young people aged 12-18 to explore AI, machine learning, and data science.
Since its start in 2015, Teens in AI has reached over 9.000 young people in over 140 cities worldwide.
Organised twice a year, global AI hackathons for teenagers are one of the main activities of the initiative. During those campaigns, locations from across the globe participate in local events where teams develop and pitch technological solutions tackling a UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to determine the winner.
Being on the mission to attract more people to new technologies, achieve more efficient use of digital potential and support the development of the ICT sector in Bulgaria by encouraging young people to pursue computing and technology, the Digital National Alliance in Bulgaria is the lead organiser of the event for Bulgaria two times in a row - in October 2021 and in March 2022.
Christina de Bruin, who is a UNICEF Representative to the Republic of Bulgaria, shared this in her speech for the opening of the first Teens In AI hackathon in Bulgaria:
“We cannot allow half of the world's talent – girls to be excluded from the spheres of artificial intelligence and technological solutions which are extremely important nowadays. Greetings to the organisers of the initiative!”
Why is this a good practice?
During strict pandemic restrictions due to COVID-19, DNA managed to successfully conduct two consecutive Teens in AI hackathons in an online format. This allowed the engaging a wider range of children from all over Bulgaria, including representatives of minority groups.
As a result of the events, over 100 children from different backgrounds, with zero technical skills and with extensive experience in programming as well, developed nearly 20 innovative AI-based projects, the best of which were evaluated by the international jury of Tees in AI.
"I took part in the hackathon because I think it is important to keep abreast of global problems and look for solutions to them. Artificial intelligence has great potential and I believe that it can help us create a better world for everyone".
- Elena,16 years old, who took part in both of the Bulgarian hackathons.
Another participant in the latest Bulgarian edition of Teens in AI echoed this positive feedback, stating that the initiative is:
"A hackathon, where you don’t need to miss school and yet you’re developing a project, where you not only code, but develop an entrepreneurial plan with target groups, income sources, partners and so on."
The Teens in AI initiative spreads more and more all over the world, being launched in around 25 countries.
If you would like to connect with and inspire the next generation of tech and AI thinkers, co-host a hackathon or support the initiative, read more here.
© Digital National Alliance