face emotion recognition group activity for girls

Communicating With Aliens

Communicating With Aliens

Topic: Artificial Intelligence Careers

Empowerment Lesson Video: Explore Careers in AI


  • A selection of magazines featuring human faces such as fashion magazines and news magazines
  • Lined and unlined paper
  • Markers
  • Scissors 
  • Other basic supplies as requested by the ‘researchers’ such as pencils, small whiteboard, etc

Video Discussion:

Tell students they will be watching the video Explore Careers in AI. Briefly describe AI. One possible definition is ‘the ability of a computer program or machine to think and learn’. Explain that the video features role models discussing their jobs in the field of artificial intelligence.

After watching the video together, invite students to share specific things they learned about different AI careers featured in the video and to reflect upon their observations e.g., ‘I liked knowing that there were so many different careers in AI, and that even careers that I didn’t think used artificial intelligence like doctors or lawyers use AI tools.’

Use the following questions to prepare students for the activity:

  • What did the Director of AI Research in the video do?
  • Why might it be important to teach computers how to understand human emotions?

Activity Instructions:

  1. Divide the students into teams of 3-4 ‘researchers’.
  2. Tell each team that they are a group of researchers specializing in alien education. The year is 2879, and humanity has just made first contact with an alien species from another galaxy. Although many teams of scientists have worked with the aliens (the Yorabas) to find a method of communication, no one has been able to explain human emotions. So, the Yorabas are finding it difficult to understand humans and communicate effectively with them.
  3. Tell the researchers that they are in charge of finding a way to teach the Yorabas about human emotions. Each team should be given a selection of magazines with lots of human faces, lined and unlined paper, markers and any other supplies that the researchers determine is needed to meet their goal.
  4. Depending on the age and experience of the students, some initial guidance may be needed. In this case, some or all of the following questions can be used to facilitate a thoughtful discussion:
    • What are human emotions?
    • Why might it be important to read emotions from someone's face while talking to them?
    • How do you like to learn about new things? For example, by reading books, looking at pictures or flashcards, doing practice problems, acting out stories, etc.
    • How might you teach the Yorabas to recognize human emotions?
  5. Provide students with time to work as a team to plan how well they will teach the Yorabas about human emotions. As time allows, teams can also create the props or other items needed for their plan such as human emotion flashcards, written scenarios, or stories.
  6. Bring the students together to briefly share their plans as well as the props or other items they created if applicable.
  7. Conclude the activity by explaining that the students have completed many of the same steps that AI researchers complete every day at work. AI researchers work hard to make plans to teach computers how to understand and interact with humans. They even try to teach computers about human emotions. And just like the teams of researchers today came up with many different possible plans to teach the Yorabas, AI researchers get to try lots of different plans in their jobs too!