Hi, I am Safinah. I am a graduate student at the Personal Robots Group at MIT Media Lab . My research is about studying how tiny humans create with AI, and how it influences their creativity. I design and study technologies to foster creative learning. I develop child-robot interactions for behavioral learning such curiosity, creativity and growth mindset. I design inclusive creative AI literacy curricula and teaching materials for k-12 students and teachers. I like making art, games, and robots. I teach k-12 students about robots and making games.

I am advised by Professor Cynthia Breazeal. Before MIT, I spent time researching education technology, learning games and accessibility at Carnegie Mellon University, Facebook AI Research and Twitch. I am currently a Microsoft Research Fellow, MIT's Teaching Development Fellow (TDF) and MIT's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) fellow.

If you are an educator looking for K-12 AI learning materials, see my Creative AI curriculum collection here!
If you are looking for the Creative Human-AI Interacton Guidelines, find my handy printable Design Guideline cards here!

Say hi; don't be shy. Reach out at safinah@mit.edu

Art pick of the week: Luisa Schmolke


Journal Papers

Children as creators, thinkers and citizens in an AI-driven future.

Safinah Ali, Daniella DiPaola, Irene Lee, Victor Sindato, Grace Kim, Ryan Blumofe, Cynthia Breazeal
Computers and Education: Artificial Intelligence.

Social Robots as Creativity Eliciting Agents.

Safinah Ali, Nisha Devasia, Hae Won Park, Cynthia Breazeal
Frontiers in Robotics and AI

A social robot’s influence on children’s figural creativity during gameplay.

Safinah Ali, Hae Won Park, Cynthia Breazeal
International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction

AI + ethics curricula for middle school youth: Lessons learned from three project-based curricula.

Randi Williams, Safinah Ali , Nisha Devasia, Daniella DiPaola, Jenna Hong, Stephen P Kaputsos, Brian Jordan, Cynthia Breazeal
International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education

Integrating ethics and career futures with technical learning to promote AI literacy for middle school students: An exploratory study.

Helen Zhang, Irene Lee, Safinah Ali, Daniella DiPaola, Yihong Cheng, Cynthia Breazeal
International Journal of Artificial Intelligence in Education

Expressive Cognitive Architecture for a Curious Social Robot.

Maor Rosenberg, Hae Won Park, Rinat Rosenberg-Kima, Safinah Ali, Anastasia K Ostrowski, Cynthia Breazeal, Goren Gordon
ACM Transactions on Interactive Intelligent Systems (TiiS)

Peer-reviewed Conference Papers

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: Co-designing Text-to-Image Generation Learning Materials for K-12 with Educators

Safinah Ali, Prerna Ravi, Katherine Moore, Cynthia Breazeal, Hal Abelson
Proceedings of Educational Advances in Artificial Intelligence (EAAI-24)

Constructing Dreams using Generative AI

Safinah Ali, Prerna Ravi, Randi Williams, Daniella DiPaola, Cynthia Breazeal
Proceedings of Educational Advances in Artificial Intelligence (EAAI-24)

Doodlebot: An educational robot for creativity and AI literacy.

Safinah Ali * , Randi Williams * , Raúl Ancantara, Tasneem Burghleh, Sharifa Alghowinem, Cynthia Breazeal
Proceedings of ACM Human-robot Interaction (HRI) 2024

*equal contribution

AI-Audit. A Card Game to Reflect on Everyday AI Systems.

Safinah Ali, Vishesh Kumar, Cynthia Breazeal
Proceedings of Educational Advances in Artificial Intelligence (EAAI-23)

Make-a-Thon for Middle School AI Educators.

Daniella DiPaola, Katherine S Moore, Safinah Ali, Beatriz Perret, Xiaofei Zhou, Helen Zhang, Irene Lee
Proceedings of the 54th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education

Making Art with and about Artificial Intelligence: Three Approaches to Teaching AI and AI Ethics to Middle and High School Students.

Benjamin Walsh, Kayla Desportes, Irene Lee, Safinah Ali, Daniella DiPaola, Scott Sieke, Francisco Castro, William Payne, Helen Zhang
Proceedings of the 53rd ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE)

Introducing Variational Autoencoders to High School Students.

Zhuoyue Lyu, Safinah Ali, Cynthia Breazeal
Proceedings of Educational Advances in Artificial Intelligence (EAAI-22)

Exploring Generative Models with Middle School Students.

Safinah Ali Daniella DiPaola, Irene Lee, Jenna Hong, Cynthia Breazeal
Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2020)

Escape! bot: Social robots as creative problem-solving partners.

Safinah Ali, Nisha Devasia, Cynthia Breazeal
Proceedings of ACM Creativity and Cognition (ACM C&C 2021)

Can Children Emulate a Robotic Non-Player Character's Figural Creativity?

Safinah Ali , Hae Won Park, Cynthia Breazeal
Proceedings of the Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play (CHI Play 2020) < 

Developing Middle School Students’ AI Literacy.

Irene Lee, Safinah Ali, Helen Zhang, Daniella DiPaola, Cynthia Breazeal
Proceedings of the 52nd ACM technical symposium on computer science education (SIGCSE)

What are GANs?: Introducing generative adversarial networks to middle school students.

Safinah Ali, Daniella DiPaola, Cynthia Breazeal
Proceedings of Educational Advances in Artificial Intelligence (EAAI-21)

The Contour to Classification Game: An Introduction to Neural Networks.

Irene Lee, Safinah Ali
Proceedings of Educational Advances in Artificial Intelligence (EAAI-21)

Sonify: Making Visual Graphs Accessible.

Safinah Ali, Laya Muralidharan, Felicia Alfieri, Monali Agrawal, Jacob Jorgensen
Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Human Interaction and Emerging Technologies (IHIET 2019)

Constructionism, Ethics, and Creativity: Developing Primary and Middle School Artificial Intelligence.

Safinah Ali, Blakeley H Payne, Randi Williams, Hae Won Park, Cynthia Breazeal
Proceedings of International Joint Conferences on Artificial Intelligence 2019 (IJCAI 2019)

Can Children Learn Creativity from a Social Robot?

Safinah Ali, Tyler Moroso, Cynthia Breazeal
Proceedings of ACM Creativity and Cognition (ACM C&C 2019)

A Good Scare: Leveraging Game Theming and Narrative to Impact Player Experience.

Jarrek R Holmes, Alexandra To, Fengyi Zhang, Se Eun Park, Safinah Ali, Zhen Bai, Geoff Kaufman, Jessica Hammer
Extended Abstracts of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2019)

A Social Robot System for Modeling Children's Word Pronunciation: Socially Interactive Agents Track.

Samuel Spaulding, Huili Chen, Safinah Ali, Michael Kulinski, Cynthia Breazeal
Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Autonomous Agents and MultiAgent Systems (AAMAS 2019)

Transition from Game Driven Goal Delineation to Goal Driven Game Design in Tandem Transformational Game Design.

Safinah Ali, Alexandra To, Elaine Fath, Zhen Bai, Jessica Hammer, Geoff Kaufman
Proceedings of the International Academic Conference on Meaningful Play 2018.

Analytic Frameworks for Audience Participation Games and Tools.

Safinah Ali, Rachel Moeller, Judith Choi, Jessica Hammer
Proceedings of Spectating Play 2017

Tandem Transformational Game Design: A Game Design Process Case Study.

Alexandra To, Elaine Fath, Eda Zhang, Safinah Ali, Catherine Kildunne, Anny Fan, Jessica Hammer, Geoff Kaufman
Proceedings of the International Academic Conference on Meaningful Play 2016.

Integrating Curiosity and Uncertainty in Game Design.

Alexandra To, Safinah Ali, Geoff Kaufman, Jessica Hammer
Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG. (DiGRA 2016)

CaptuRing: A Tangible Imaging Tool for Brainstorming.

Bhawna Agarwal, Vikas Goel, Safinah Ali, Neeraj Talukdar, Keyur Sorathia
Proceedings of the India HCI 2014 ACM Conference on Human Computer Interaction (India HCI 2014)


Creative AI Education

Curriculum Design, GANs, Creativity

Developing AI Literacy (DAILy)

AI Literacy, k12

Embodied Creativity

Child-robot interaction for fostering creativity

Robot Mindset and Curiosity

Social robots, curiosity, growth mindset

Robotic AAC for Autism

Social robots, assistive technology

How to Make Almost Anything

Physical prototyping, electronics

Sonify - Bloomberg

Interaction Design, Accessibility


Physical Prototyping, AI Education


User Experience Design

Fractal Ink Design Studio

User Experience Design

Techniche 2014

Branding, Publicity, Graphic Design

MIDA - Car as an IoT

Service Design

Names & Faces

User Experience Design

University Health Services

User Experience Research

The Cracked Egg

Product Design, Furniture


Magazine Design, Math

Human Robot Interaction

Robot Ethics, HRI, Psychology

Gender Gap

Information Visualization


Interactive Art

Computational Design, Data Visualization

Motion Graphics

Animation, Kinetic typography

Visual Design

Graphics, Illustrations, UI


Painting, 3D, Macrame

Physical Prototyping

Installations, electronics, 3d printing, molding


It has been an adventure!

  • 1993-2011

    Grew up and schooled, Nagpur

    Grew up in a beautiful small town. Learned the art of terrible jokes. Sang my first songs and read my first books. Developed a liking for comics.

  • 2011-2015

    Bachelor's in Design, IIT Guwahati

    Learned to design a thing or two. Met the smartest people. Built stuff. Broke stuff. Learned to fix stuff. Designed my first product.

  • Summer 2013

    UX Design Intern, Fractal Ink Design Studio

    Kept my eyes and ears open. Got my hands dirty trying a range of UX practices. Took ownership of my projects. Worked directly with clients. Was guided by amazing mentors. Designed beautiful interfaces.

  • August 2013 - September 2014

    Creative Lead, Techniche

    Joined Techniche (the annual techno-management festival of IIT Guwahati) as a designer in 2012. Led a team of 12 designers to strategize branding and overall design requirements of the 2014 edition of Techniche.

  • Summer 2014

    UX Design Intern, Amazon.com

    Practiced User Centered Design. Worked in a diverse team. Learned from the experts. Observed how the corporate giants work.

  • January 2014 - May 2015

    HCI Research Student, Embedded Interactions Laboratory

    Worked in health and tech. Worked with the users. Built some more stuff. Analyzed data. Wrote my bachelor's thesis.

  • August 2015 - August 2016

    Masters in Human Computer Interaction, CMU

    Embraced challenges. Acquired a spectrum of skills. Transpired ideas to products. Explored new cultures.

  • August 2015 - February 2016

    Interaction Design Education Summit 2016

    Worked with the IXDA team to organize the IxD Education Summit. Designed the logo, and handled the website and schedule for the summit.

  • January 2016 - August 2016

    MHCI Capstone Project, Bloomberg

    Conducted a research study on accessibility in desktop computers. Designed an app to make stock price charts more accessible.

  • September 2016 - March 2017

    Games Research - Twitch

    Project management, analyzing user data, running studies, and designing games on Twitch. Working with an amazing team of Game Designers, and Researchers.

  • March 2017 - August 2017

    Product Designer, vArmour

    User Experience for several vertical products delivering data center and cloud security through micro-segmentation.

  • September 2017 - now

    Research Assistant - MIT Media Lab

    Human-robot interaction, AI education, Embodied creativity

  • Summer 2021

    Research Intern, Facebook AI Research (FAIR)

    Designing creative human-AI interactions.

  • More

Reach out

I would love to hear from you!


MIT Media Lab | Cambridge, MA