In a Quarantine Slump? How One High School Student Used AI to Stay on Track

by Lauren Finkle

Canadian high schooler Ana DuCristea has a clever solution for the quarantine slump.

Using AI and natural language processing, she programmed an app capable of setting customizable reminders so you won’t miss any important activities, like baking banana bread or whipping up Dalgona coffee.

The project’s emblematic of how a new generation – with access to powerful technology and training — approaches the once exotic domain of AI.

A decade ago, deep learning was the stuff of elite research labs with big budgets.

Now it’s the kind of thing a smart, motivated high school student can knock out to solve a tangible problem.

DuCristea’s been interested in coding from childhood, and spends her spare time teaching herself new skills and taking online AI courses. After winning a Jetson Nano Developer Kit this summer at AI4ALL, an AI camp, she set to work remedying one of her pet peeves — the limited functionality of reminder applications.

She’s long envisioned a more useful app that could snooze for more specific lengths of time, and set reminders for specific tasks, dates and times. Using the Nano and her background on Python, DuCristea spent her after-school hours creating an app that does just that.

With the app, users can message a bot on Discord requesting a reminder for a specific task, date and time. DuCristea has shared the app’s code on Github, and is planning to continue training it to increase its accuracy and capabilities.

Key Points From This Episode:

Her first hands-on experience with the Jetson Nano has only strengthened her intent to pursue software or computer engineering at college, where she’ll continue to learn more about what area of STEM she’d like to focus on.

  • DuCristea’s interest in programming and electronics started at age nine, when her father gifted her a book on Python and she found it so interesting that she worked through it in a week. Since then, she’s taken courses on coding and shares her most recent projects on GitHub.
  • Programming the app took some creativity, as DuCristea didn’t have a large dataset to train on. After trying neural networks and vectorization, she eventually found that template searches worked best for her limited list of examples.


“There’s so many programs, even exclusively for girls now in STEM — I would say go for them.” — Ana DuCristea [14:55]

“The Jetson Nano is a lot more accessible than most things in AI right now.” — Ana DuCristea [18:51]

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