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Student Spotlight: Team MDS helps businesses breathe easier

Updated: Sep 1, 2021

COVID-19 has killed millions across the globe and devastated businesses. Even after one full year into the pandemic, there is still no end in sight with new outbreaks in places like India. Businesses are struggling to determine how to balance safety and livelihoods.

Team MDS (Meenakshi, Danika, and Shriya), a group of middle schoolers from California, USA, studied this problem and realized that one way to help was through better awareness of ventilation. Going as far back as the Spanish Flu of 1918, doctors have realized that better ventilation, and even simple actions like opening windows, can dramatically reduce the spread of respiratory diseases. After talking with several world-renowned experts, MDS learned that CO2 levels are a simple and easy-to-detect proxy for ventilation.

The MDS team built CO2 Sensei, an iPhone app that businesses and individuals can use to measure the CO2 levels around them, understand the difference between safe and unsafe levels, take steps to improve CO2 levels, and track their improvements. The team also created a website,, to help users learn more about CO2, ventilation, and COVID-19.

With CO2 Sensei, the MDS team applied learnings from Artificial Intelligence, Coding, and the Internet of Things. They found that they could use AI to automatically read sensors that they could not connect to with Bluetooth, thereby greatly expanding the number of sensors available to their users. They used their coding knowledge to build an app, connect to a Google database to maintain historical data, and connect with sensors. The team now has more than 40,000 samples of CO2 readings. They also used their learnings of IoT to build their own connected CO2 sensor - showing a path for anyone who cannot afford a commercial sensor to create one of their own.

COVID-19 is not the only problem that can benefit from CO2 Sensei. In our world of increasingly poor air quality, CO2 Sensei can help people all around the world develop a shared understanding of how important it is that the air that we and our children breathe is clean. Kudos to team MDS for their innovation and ingenuity in helping the world around them!

We have found that AI for kids is a great way for K-12 students to learn to love technology, STEM and math, as they are able to bring their creativity to life. AI Literacy for K-12 helps the next generation (our first AI-Native generation) to understand these technologies and use them to envision a better future.

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