CURRENT INITIATIVES

Our community program consists of these specific kinds of activities: (1) developing applications in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and expert systems (E/S) for demonstrations, (2) training courses for the general community population and (3) preparing minority students for various non-JEF sponsored computer competitions.
 
 

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND EXPERT SYSTEMS FOR TEENS

The AI/ES program has spawned applications(the prolog system TEENBAS, and the JEF expert system), programs(the mentoring program), and a conference( District of Columbia Computer Science Conference (DCCSC) for high school students). Developing and demonstrating those applications have given JEF students more exposure, a new sense of pride in their academic work, a boost in self esteem and a "can do" attitude. TEENBAS is an AI Model of a Black Teenager written in PDC Prolog by Junior and Senior High School students. The model contains a collection of the thoughts, perceptions, and ideas of eight JEF teenagers based on those issues that get the most publicity in today's society. They are as follows: drug and alcohol abuse; sex and pregnancy; teen perceptions of themselves and the opposite sex; education, both traditional and non-traditional; strengths and weaknesses of the black family; and teen suicide. If a question, pertaining  to one of the issues, is asked of the system, it will answer as if one of the original teens were answering a peer as opposed to an adult. The model has been demonstrated in New Orleans, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Atlanta and Birmingham.

Other examples of AI projects are: How to do a Research Paper, Science Fair Projects Tutorial, Modern Genetics, Contributions of Blacks in Computing, and A Teenage Girl's Shopping Habits.

CLASSES AND HANDS-ON TRAINING

Classes for youth are offered in the Fall, Winter and summer at the JEF Community Computer Center. They are: Computers for Elementary Children, Intro to Computers, Expert Systems for Teens (see above) and Intro to "C" language. Classes are held in the evenings and on weekends.

CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY ROBOTICS INSTITUTE TOUR

For several years during the first weekend of November, JEF students in grades 4-12 have traveled to Pittsburg to tour the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute as the guest of first the Director and now the Dean of the School of Computer Science, Dr. Raj Reddy. The highlight of the last trip  was the robot DANTE, which was to rappel down into Mt Erebus, the Antarctic volcano as a NASA experiment. When television news stories were aired relative to the progress and subsequent postponement of the project our students were excited because they were familiar with the project.

 PREPARATION FOR NON-JEF SPONSORED COMPETITIONS

JEF has prepared students to enter other computer and science competitions such as: NAACP Afro-Academic, Cultural,   Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO); Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) National Competition, BDPA National Computer Competition, Computer Learning Foundation Contest and the National Technical Association National Science Competition and Student Paper Symposium.

JEF began preparing minority students for the ACT-SO competition in January 1990. That year our students won an Honorable mention and a Bronze Medal. In 1991, our students won two gold medals and a Bronze medal locally and a Silver medal nationally. In 1992 JEF students received a silver and a bronze medal in computer science and an honorable mention in mathematics. In 1993, students won a Silver in computer science and a Gold Medal in mathematics. In 1994, students won a Gold in computerscience. In 1995, JEF students won all the medals in computer science and mathematics, locally and the Silver Medal nationally in computer science. In 1996, JEF won three of the four medals presented in Computer Science and Mathematics.
 

MENTORING/COUNSELLING PROGRAM

The JEF mentoring program is designed to immerse students in a supportive educational atmosphere.  There is an emphasis on vocabulary, reading, and speaking skills.  Successful JEF students and college students are used as role models. These students serve as group leaders, organizing their groups  for competitions, inspiring by example, telephoning all participants to maintain communication, and generally serving as older brothers and sisters to whom the participants can relate. JEF provides training for the peer mentors.

Minority professionals are used to discuss their fields of expertise and to give advice to students and instructors on projects and competitions. Professionals are encouraged to assist in the development and exploitation of opportunities for role models to jointly do presentations before mixed peer audiences. That involves developing projects using advanced techniques that are slanted toward applications that minority students can understand and appreciate. Over the past five years more than fifty professionals coming from professional organizations, parents, and former students have assisted us. Also, JEF has acquired the simulation software, SIM CITY and SIM EARTH, to facilitate the students in playing roles of the various professionals.

Another important part of the mentoring program is counselling. JEF students come from a variety of backgrounds, but a large number are from single parent families. There exists the feeling that attending college is beyond their financial reach. JEF provides sessions with college recruiters and admissions personnel to counteract the feeling of hopelessness and to develop strategies for success. One such strategy is the reinforcement (by peer review and discussions) of science and math concepts covered in the school curriculum. School class schedules are shared among the participants. There are discussions pertaining to the various classes on a weekly basis to reinforce those concepts that are being taught. Students then are better prepared when they attend classes at school. This elevates self esteem and minimizes class disruption.
 Parents and students are required to attend an open house before the program begins for an orientation. There is a weekly progress report to the parents. Parents are required to participate in the program performing tasks such as fundraising, experience sharing, chaperoning, and other tasks to enhance the program. Additionally, parents are invited to an awards program, at which the students receive certificates and are given the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned