Neural networking for Perse pupils with new AI Club

With the rapid growth of artificial intelligence (AI) in everyday life, a new society dedicated to machine learning has been launched at The Perse.

Pupils have been getting to grips with concepts such as neural networks with the Perse AI Club on Monday lunchtimes.

Run by Perse Head of Computing & Digital Strategy Paul Baker, the club began life this term with the support of Dr Vitaliy Milke, a lecturer in Computing & AI at Anglia Ruskin University.

Mr Baker said: “Dr Milke contacted us to offer us some material which we could use with a club as part of our wider discussions about responding positively to the AI revolution unfolding, particularly for offering learning experiences for students given the main curriculum specifications only has very limited coverage so far of AI.

“The purpose of the club is for students to get hands-on experience with machine learning and make it as accessible as possible.”

After learning the basics of data science, pupils have begun training a neural network – a method of AI that teaches computers to process data in a way that resembles the human brain.

They have been carrying out classification exercises to test an AI engine’s ability to identify objects from a small list using pixelated low-resolution images, themed around topics such as transport and clothing, which have been downloaded and resized before being fed into the machine.

Mr Baker said: “We’d like to train our own classification engine from scratch at some stage once we’ve decided what large collection of training data we can use, and we’d also like to explore some fine-tuning options with ChatGPT models.”

AI Club members Lauren Cooke, Noah van Gael and Lara Maborukoje (all Year 9) have been fascinated by what they have discovered already.

Lauren said: “I wanted to do a computing club and I thought this would be interesting as it’s teaching you something that will become more and more relevant and I’m interested in going into computer science in the future.”

Noah added: “The AI Club is just a fun opportunity for me. It’s very enjoyable and I’ve loved working with my friends doing things like training neural networks to identify things like numbers.

“I think AI will be a bit like the invention of the home computer, so it’s really important that you learn to use it and know how it works.”

Meanwhile, Lara believes having knowledge of AI will be a vital “stepping stone” to her plans for a career in law.

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