AI programme for secondary students to be expanded next year
A pilot programme on artificial intelligence and machine learning rolled out to schools in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Kildare is set to be expanded.
Under the pilot programme, 8,000 students from more than 100 secondary schools experienced a full immersive experience into the technologies that are giving the world self-driving cars, manufacturing robots, and they learned about the jobs of the future.
With the support of Huawei Ireland, the programme was developed by Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research Training in Machine Learning (ML-Labs) based in University College Dublin (UCD) and Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin). The programme was delivered via CSinc, a national research group based in TU Dublin and has ambitions to be rolled out again for the academic year 2022/2023 via the online learning platform CSLINC. The AI And ML module was developed by Joyce Mahon, an ML-Labs PhD student at UCD supervised by Brett Becker and Brian Mac Namee.
Speaking about the programme Vera Leader, Principal of Boherbue Comprehensive School in Cork, which saw 25 transition year students take part in the programme this year, said: “Our school is in a rural area so computers and engineering are high on the local agenda – but this programme has opened our students’ eyes even more to the possibilities for artificial intelligence and machine learning. It has also challenged students in their thinking about what to study in 5th and 6th year and whether they should consider studying STEM subjects in college – this wouldn’t have happened without the programme. The structure of the programme meant that it was designed with both students and teachers in mind – so it has been very progressive and we look forward to offering the programme to students again next year.”
The module contains lesson plans, presentations, videos, classwork, homework and solutions for teachers. In addition, code and accompanying instructional materials are provided, to introduce various machine learning algorithms if the teacher desires a more technical approach, with minimal setup, no specific software requirements, and no cost to participate. Classes can be adapted by teachers to support diverse student groups, and the course authors recognize that for some students this might be their first-time exploring issues relating to algorithms and data. Students who successfully complete the course receive a Certificate of Completion from the TU Dublin research group.