WATCH: Artificial intelligence convening led by OCDE amplifies student voices

Orange County high schoolers hosted a first-of-its-kind event on Thursday, April 25 to broaden their peers’ knowledge about the artificial intelligence applications available at their fingertips.

The Student AI Convening — coordinated by Orange County Department of Education administrators Wes Kriesel and Kunal Dalal with support from the OC Pathways program — welcomed more than 450 students to the JW Marriott in Anaheim to attend sessions, learn how AI can improve their educational paths and gain insight from others’ technological innovations.

Inspired by the creative ways scholars are utilizing AI in their academic and career-minded pursuits, OCDE’s Career Education unit worked alongside Associate Superintendent Dr. Sonia Llamas to organize the event and further amplify student voices in the conversation around operating AI software in classrooms.

“This convening is a result of a collaborative vision,” Dr. Llamas said, “one that aims to harness the potential of AI through the fresh, innovative perspectives of students.”

Throughout the daylong summit, more than 400 student attendees from 15 local campuses had the opportunity to test out new artificial intelligence software with peer-led tutorials. Sessions focused on new approaches, from interacting more effectively with text chatbots like ChatGPT to learning the programming skills needed to develop AI-powered devices.

About 20 local students representing the OC Pathways’ Forward AI Network of Students & Innovators led by Kriesel and Dalal — F.A.N.S.I. for short — hosted interactive sessions highlighting the AI-assisted projects they have created while showing students how to use the technology to expand their own ideas. To kickstart the day, students and educators heard insights on the future of AI from keynote speakers Zion Powell from Hare High School, Rylee Robles from Los Alamitos High School and Sophia Le from Westminster High School.

Los Alamitos High School student Rylee Robles leads a presentation on crafting stories with artificial intelligence at the Student AI Summit on April 25.
Los Alamitos High School student Rylee Robles leads a presentation on crafting stories with artificial intelligence at the Student AI Convening on April 25.

Rylee, a junior, presented students with tools that can elevate their narrative stories using a large language model called Claude AI. By answering question prompts, Rylee also taught her peers how to work with the technology to craft potential resumes by building characters that match their career goals.

While Rylee personally utilizes AI models to develop ideas for filmmaking, the OC Pathways student ambassador said she hopes this event can help students build upon each others’ experiences with machine technology and “create the future we want to see.”

As the event came to a close, students were able to connect with mentors from local businesses like Vital Link and Spyder Lab, learn about future working opportunities, and try out new technological gadgets.

Based on student responses to the sessions, OCDE Deputy Superintendent Dr. Ramon Miramontes said he looks forward to future events like this that can benefit Orange County youth.

“This get together of so many student voices is where true change can happen,” said student presenter Sophia Le, “because we are the water droplets that nurture the plant of new ideas to broaden our garden of what AI could be.”