This Summer we had the good fortune of having Albert as our lead instructor for our first ever Ai Camp at Portfolio. Read all about what he did over the course of our one-week camp.


This summer at Portfolio School’s Ai Camp, I had the fantastic opportunity of spending five days playing with kids and learning about Ai… Art and Imagination😜 During this time, we also happened to learn a little about Artificial Intelligence as well😎

Our campers’ positive attitude was essential to our learning space.

Our campers’ positive attitude was essential to our learning space.

Promoting a Growth Mindset

…we practiced embracing failure and growth with joy and determination…

To kick off the week, we started with the counting game, and we tried to count to 10 as a team. Whenever we failed, we would gleefully shout, “WOOHOO! We Failed😝” together, and we practiced embracing failure and growth with joy and determination. By the end of the week, we were able to plan and execute a strategy that allowed us to count to 100😱

Dancing through Computer Science

We transferred our dance communication skills to the computer…

After establishing our growth mindset norm, we began learning about computer science through dance! Our Ai friend, Ollie Owl, really enjoys showing off his dance moves, and he showed us some of his signature moves👏 We then went on to teach each other new dance moves, and during this activity, we realized that providing clear and specific instructions was incredibly tricky.

Our Ai teaching assistant, Ollie Owl, was created using Scratch programming.

Our Ai teaching assistant, Ollie Owl, was created using Scratch programming.

Just like us, computers need clear and specific instructions too, and we can provide those instructions through code. We transferred our dance communication skills to the computer, and we created computer programs using Scratch🤓 By connecting computer science with imagination, we built interactive storytelling programs, and some of our stories even spread awareness about global issues like pollution.

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Campers used computer programming as a medium for storytelling.

Campers used computer programming as a medium for storytelling.

Preparing an Ai Feast

In the real world, the “food” Ai eats is data and information…

At this point, it was time to start thinking harder about Ai, and we made “dinner” for our Ai🤔 Most of us didn’t meet the standard height requirement for commercial kitchens, so we improvised and substituted spatulas, ingredients, and ovens with glue, construction paper, and divergent thinking!

Some food our campers prepared for Ai included space bananas and rainbow salad.

Some food our campers prepared for Ai included space bananas and rainbow salad.

In the real world, the “food” our Ai eats is data and information🍎 In addition to executing our specific instructions, computers can learn from the data we provide through Ai.

We used this knowledge to help our Ai friends, Cheetah and Leopard, identify their relatives at the airport.

Do you know the difference between cheetahs and leopards?

Do you know the difference between cheetahs and leopards?

By feeding labeled photos of cheetahs and leopards to a machine learning model, we trained our computer to classify images of cheetahs and leopards. Since we also included some pictures of Cheetos, our computer thought Cheetos were cheetahs😝

Creating an Ai Tour Guide

There weren’t any tour guides around, so we created our own…

Not only can we make Ai recognize cheetahs and leopards, but we can also make Ai do something a little more… abstract. In Lower Manhattan’s City Hall Park, Carmen Herrera’s Estructuras Monumentales was being displayed. There weren’t any tour guides around, so we created our own… with Ai🎨

First, we gathered food for our Ai Tour Guide by taking pictures of the sculptures. Then, we used the data we collected to train our Ai Tour Guide to recognize each sculpture. Next, we wrote stories inspired by the sculptures, and we programmed our Ai Tour Guide to tell our stories based on sculptures it saw.

Our Ai Tour Guide recognized the sculptures of Estructuras Monumentales and told stories inspired by them (Photos used in demonstration above taken from  Public Art Fund ).

Our Ai Tour Guide recognized the sculptures of Estructuras Monumentales and told stories inspired by them (Photos used in demonstration above taken from Public Art Fund).

With our Art and Imagination (Ai) Tour Guide, people can experience new worlds such as Slime-tron and the Sugar Candy Land🤩

My Ai dreams to be… collaborative

…the most challenging aspect of this project was figuring out how to work together…

At the end of the week, we had to overcome our public speaking fears and present interactive Ai performances based on the theme of “My Ai dreams to be…” to our parents. We worked in teams of five, and each team was given only one computer to ensure we focused on talking to each other. We unanimously concluded that the most challenging aspect of this project was figuring out how to work together🙈

One team elected a leader who controlled the computer while seeking input from the other team members. Another team opted for a direct democracy with shared access to the computer. Both teams had to address internal team conflicts, and we learned to negotiate, compromise, and most importantly, actively listen to each other’s ideas.

Our campers’ projects incorporated ideas and characters from all team members.

Our campers’ projects incorporated ideas and characters from all team members.

Final Thoughts

…our kids consistently exceeded our expectations through tenacity, creativity, and empathy…

We all had an exhilarating week at Ai Camp, and special thanks go to Doug, Babur, Adiylah, Stevie, Kristen, and everyone else at Portfolio School who made it possible. I am grateful not only for your invested time and effort but also for your openness to ideas.

How can we empower our kids to “own it” in a future workplace that includes robotic workers and Ai assistants? Ai Camp was an experiment designed to explore this question, and during camp, our kids consistently exceeded our expectations through tenacity, creativity, and empathy. I’m certain that they will continue to treat each other with kindness and respect, and I’m looking forward to a future where their Ai creations will as well😉