Which senior schools for Artificial Intelligence?

(31 Posts)
DoMyBest Sun 14-Aug-16 20:32:28

Anyone know of any senior schools which teach Artificial Intelligence (making robots)? My son's a little obsessed and, after 3 years, we're increasingly realising that it's not just a phase smile Tips on the most forward-thinking science and computer departments (I'm not good at either so totally clueless) really welcome. Things like exchange programs with other good schools abroad, links with MIT, etc?

cdtaylornats Sun 14-Aug-16 22:13:15

Artificial intelligence has very little to do with robots.

AI tends to be things like Machine Learning, Neural Nets, Machine Translation.

Robotics is mostly building the hardware, controlling movement, machine vision, sensors.

Edinburgh university has a School of Informatics that covers both areas and if your son watches Robot Wars then he might recognise one of the professors Sethu Vijayakumar who is a new judge - his day job is Professor of Robotics and Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics.

A quick look at the link will give him an idea of the range of topics

Possible degrees

Edinburgh has a long history of AI research stretching back to the 70s

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Sun 14-Aug-16 22:15:47

Archbishop Holgates comprehensive in York has a very successful robotics club - they did very well in a national competition apparently.

DoMyBest Sun 14-Aug-16 22:27:32

Thanks both. Just to clarify, cdtalornats, I was looking for secondary school who are strong on AI (and robotics! thanks, good explanation), not universities - although I'll spread the word about Edinburgh and their learned professor. If our son went to York it would have to be to board as we live in London, but I'll look into Archbishop Holgates comprehensivd - and the annual robotics competition (seriously exciting to hear there is one!) as perhaps it can set the example for other schools, including my son's.

MonsterZinc Sun 14-Aug-16 22:37:45

Has he competed in pi wars?

Parietal Sun 14-Aug-16 22:39:58

which part of the UK are you in? In London, lots of schools have after school clubs on computing / robotics / AI and there are also holiday clubs etc. Just look for strong maths / physics / engineering. your son could set up a club if he is in a school with other like-minded people.

also look at

for things he might like

DoMyBest Sun 14-Aug-16 23:19:32

No to Pi wars and never heard of Makezine: thank you. We're in London. Know about Firetech camp but it's quite expensive & starts at 9 - he's a year short.

sablepoot Mon 15-Aug-16 00:10:28

Not very convenient for London but a team from Beccles Free School have been National RoboCup champions for two years running and were World Champions this year (runners up last year). Here

DoMyBest Mon 15-Aug-16 09:05:39

Wow sablepoot. Will check that out too. Often its just a qn of calling them & getting names of people who do similar stuff near you.

haybott Mon 15-Aug-16 09:24:08

links with MIT

Why would you want links with MIT when we have several world class UK universities working on AI (not just Edinburgh)?

HandbagCrab Mon 15-Aug-16 09:42:02

Most robotics will be done as an extra curricular as it's not in the curriculum. I'd be very surprised if you found a school teaching any AI.

Why not get your son a Raspberry Pi and look up Raspberry Jams in your area?

You could look for a secondary near you that offers gcses in computing and electronics - most will offer computing atm as it's classed as a science. Electronics might be offered at a local college as an evening class too. If he's 8 i don't think you should be planning for him to board at 11 based on what he's into now.

If it is really what he wants to do logic, probability, languages and computer programming are areas to develop.

He's probably doing MIT's scratch at primary which is a free pc/ipad download so you could download this and he can create his own programs - this has some logic in too.

haybott Mon 15-Aug-16 09:52:05

I would suggest learning Python as a language as it is so versatile and so many applications can be found on the internet.

fargone Mon 15-Aug-16 10:27:03

Hi - I run Fire Tech Camp and we teach loads of robotics and computing, mainly as extra curriculars. The best school I know of for Robotics is the Highgate School - they are exceptional and the teacher there is amazing. The American School is also very strong but I suspect that's not what you're after. let me know if you are in a different area and I can suggest some others but Highgate is tops!

fargone Mon 15-Aug-16 10:28:31

I haven't seen any school doing AI, for what that's worth.

Ladymuck Mon 15-Aug-16 14:21:22

I think that fargone's comment "Highgate School - they are exceptional and the teacher there is amazing" actually highlights the main issue: schools don't have ready access to secondary teachers skilled in robotics. There will however be a small supply of teachers who have previously specialised in robotics or something else and have then decided to become a computing/physics/maths teacher, and because they are interested then run co-curricular activities. You can't really plan your child's schooling around extracurricular clubs run by teachers who may move on to other schools.

DoMyBest Mon 15-Aug-16 15:53:26

Good point Ladymuck. I just assumed - naively - that there wpuld be a secondary school robitics/AI rankings, and that they'd be feeders to the best univerty programs like MIT, or Edinburgh (now I know about it!) which churn out the most advanced programs (get me trying to sound like I know what I'm talking about). We got our primary school to start a coding club, and contemplate a robotics one, but then (as you say Ladymuck) the teacher was no longer available. I just assumed in secondary school it would be part of the curriculum and childrem could take gcse's or A-Levels in advanced robotics etc.

DoMyBest Mon 15-Aug-16 15:55:59

Fargone, I looked at your 'advanced robotics' course and that's just what we need as its the same level as the robots & engines & coding my son does already. The problem is he's still 7 (nearly 8!) and that course is for 12+: if he could show you he was up to it, would you let him join?

DoMyBest Mon 15-Aug-16 15:57:00

Oh snd Handbagcrab thank yiu, yes he loves scratch but will look into rasberry pi etc.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Mon 15-Aug-16 16:03:11

I wonder if you'd be better off supporting him privately to do it as an out-of-school activity, perhaps hiring a bright young PhD student in the field to give him some lessons, and just finding him a school which will give him a good solid grounding in maths, physics and computer science in general, rather than looking for something this specific and basing his entire education around it.

HandbagCrab Mon 15-Aug-16 16:14:37

Do those qualifications exist?

The raspberry pi community run lots of hacks/ jams/ events. Robot wars is back, perhaps you could build something for that.

AI is not robotics they are different disciplines with areas that cross over. Why not have a look at a uni coursefinder, see what is currently available and work back from there.

You could look up some accessible AI stuff like the Turing Test and ELIZA and see if these are what your ds likes or if he's more into building robots and programming them.

If you're looking at programming most secondary schools have been encouraged to teach python and python (and scratch) can control a raspberry pi. I wouldn't recommend a 7 year old to have a go with python unless they are a genius as it can be hard work and confusing! Lego mindstorms is fun but expensive.

wellsoftunbridge Mon 15-Aug-16 16:22:34

OP, you could go for a school that has taken part, or is taking part in this Tomorrows Engineers programme because the schools are given a set of kit and training for the teachers, which is supposed to have a legacy for younger year groups too.

They only select a few schools a year, but it's been running a few years so they might be one or two near you.

DoMyBest Mon 15-Aug-16 16:54:40

Yay! I'm writing down all these tips. I didn't expect so many. And yes to asking a specialist robotics/programing geek to come play with him a couple of hours a week. When he's 11 he can also start working at our local garage (he built an engine kit desugned for first year engineering 'tech diploma' students just after his 7th birthday so that's another dream).

wellsoftunbridge Mon 15-Aug-16 16:58:57

And yes to asking a specialist robotics/programing geek to come play with him a couple of hours a week

Find your nearest CoderDojo and you can do that for free and with a group of like-minded other kids.

DoMyBest Mon 15-Aug-16 17:01:25

Loving the free club idea. Seriously all, so greteful.

DoMyBest Mon 15-Aug-16 17:01:43

Oops grateful smile

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