TRI-VALLEY, CA — High schoolers’ lives have been upended by the coronavirus outbreak in California, as students across the state have dealt with suspended classes, canceled exams and a muddled college admissions process. Amid the turmoil, a group of San Ramon teens is asking fellow students to harness their creativity to find solutions during the crisis.
The effort, called the COVID-19 Challenge, asks middle and high school students around the Tri-Valley to submit a project in one of four categories — General, Business, Education and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) — that addresses a societal issue caused by the coronavirus.
The top four submissions will get a cash prize, including $300 for first place, said Stella Chen, a junior at Dougherty Valley High School who’s among the students behind the project.
Chen, 17, is passionate about engineering and artificial intelligence (AI), and founded a nonprofit, creAItivity, with the goal of inspiring creativity through artificial intelligence.
Her organization received a $1,000 community outreach grant from AI4ALL, a national nonprofit, last year, and Chen initially planned to use the money to host a hackathon focused on AI. Once the COVID-19 outbreak began, however, Chen changed her plans.
“I was inspired by the current situation to initiate a challenge that will encourage teens to be part of the solution in combating the virus,” she told Patch in an email.
As an example, Chen said a project in the Business category could propose a plan for helping local small businesses survive the crisis.
“We encourage all kinds of ideas, and participants do not need to have related experience of any sort,” she said. “We are also looking to host virtual workshops for interested participants on certain topics so they could get a deeper understanding around the issues that they are interested in.”
To enter the competition, students need to submit an interest form on the contest website. They will be asked to include an executive summary and a presentation on PowerPoint or Microsoft Word.
Finalists in each category will be announced by the end of May, and each team will have the chance to present their project to the AI4ALL community, who will vote on each prize.
More information can be found at tinyurl.com/creaitivitychallenge.
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This article originally appeared on the San Ramon Patch