In 2015, Santa Clara resident and Millikin Basics+ Elementary School student, Samaira Mehta, 11, released CoderBunnyz, a board game that teaches children how to code. Since then, CoderBunnyz, has attracted an international fan base. The game has reached consumers in the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, China and South America.
Right now, Mehta is busy promoting her new game, CoderMindz, which teaches the concepts of artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence refers to a branch of computer science which deals with the simulation of intelligent behavior in computers and a machine’s ability to imitate intelligent human behavior.
Mehta’s idea to design CoderMindz stemmed from a talk she had with her father, who works in artificial intelligence.
“My dad told me how cool it was that he got to design the artificial intelligence chips for the self-driving cars and the drones and all these user technologies,” Mehta said. “Artificial intelligence is such a big topic nowadays. Everybody wants to know about it. That got me thinking how it’s hard to use online sites to teach artificial intelligence, so I thought, why not create a board game that teaches artificial intelligence? So I created CoderMindz, which is the world’s first board game that teaches about artificial intelligence.”
According to Mehta, CoderMindz teaches five major concepts in artificial intelligence, which are training (learning by practicing), back propagation (learning by error), inference (conclusion based on data and previous training), adaptive learning (learning on the go) and autonomous (being capable of doing something by oneself with training).
“The idea is to train your robot using code cards and, basically, your robot has to get to the end by training,” Mehta said. “Sometimes you learn by error and you have to go back to the beginning. When you back propagate your robot, it’s usually because you got zapped and you have to retrain your robot. The game comes with tiny miniature figure robots.
“You win the game depending on the level you are playing,” Mehta continued. “Sometimes you have to zap another player and then reach the end. Other times you have to collect your images, make a full image, make image tokens and then reach the end.”
Mehta spent about a year developing CoderMindz.
“My dad taught me about artificial intelligence and the different concepts,” Mehta said. “Once I understood what I wanted to teach, I did rough sketches and put different ideas together. After I made the game, I sent it to graphic designers who helped me produce the game from my sketches. In October 2018, the game entered the market.”
One of Mehta’s main goals for CoderMindz is to run workshops so she could share the game with others.
“For CoderBunnyz, I’ve done over 100 workshops,” Mehta said. “I started at the Santa Clara Library, and from there, I went to libraries all over the Bay Area to reach out to kids about CoderBunnyz. I hope to do the same with CoderMindz.”