Over the past couple of years, machine learning and artificial intelligence have taken the world by storm. From targeted advertising to self-driving cars, the applications of AI are ubiquitous. With our experience running a research program for high school students, we’ve learned that several students who are interested in doing research in AI and data science find themselves getting stuck. Their topics are brilliant and ambitious, but students often lack the technical skills that can support their research projects. In this post, we would focus on how to learn data science and AI in high school and the benefits.
To help students get unstuck and build a project of their own, we have launched Veritas AI, where students build the AI fundamentals and their own projects. Some students enter the program with existing skills and others use the program to learn Python and build a foundation of AI models. All students end up building a project that stretches their abilities and showcases what they can create.
What is incredibly impressive is that not all of them want to look at AI as a path for computer science, but for other disciplines like biotechnology or the social sciences! The potential of what AI can do is immense, and getting early exposure to the subject adds a lot of value in shaping how high school students learn and create.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial Intelligence finds patterns in complex data that often we cannot find on our own. It is a broad area of computer science that tends to solve tasks that require human intelligence. While AI in movies can mimic human intelligence and often human emotions, AI in practice is goal-oriented and programmed to perform a single task.
Machine Learning is a subset of AI, where computer systems learn from their environments and use these learnings to improve experiences and processes. Data Science is a part of a family of machine learning methods, which includes extracting assumptions from data and making predictions.
Why Learn AI in High School?
Students are being exposed to a wide range of subject areas in high school. In the IB diploma, a new module called Digital Society has been designed to expose young students to the impact and importance of digital systems, including robotics, AI, the media, and more. Getting early exposure to these subjects can be beneficial, and AI itself opens up a range of possibilities.
Moreover, it shapes the manner in which students think about technology and computer science, beyond what they learn in school. Here are some of the core reasons why learning AI in high school is useful. Read AI Goes to High School.
Learning Something New in an Area of Interest
For students particularly drawn toward the social sciences or humanities, learning AI might feel daunting and often, unnecessary. However, exploring topics from a data science perspective gives students a chance to build depth in their area of interest. Some of our students have been able to build their interdisciplinary interests in areas like climate change, music, sports, and more.
One of the most interesting projects in our program was created by a student who explored their interest in AI and linguistics, where they explored how image recognition models could create a sign language recognition system to transform language barriers around the world.
Beyond this, we’ve had students explore how AI can predict the reliability of renewable energy sources, how AI can be used to predict outcomes of football matches, and how AI-generated music can alleviate depression. Stretching your ability within your field of interest gives room for a lot of potentials.
Demonstrate the Ability to Apply High Demand Skills
With the massive digital push in education and the workplace, learning AI and data science create an early advantage for students. It can be beneficial for college applications, displaying that students are serious about building a foundation for some of the depth that you can gain through your college education.
It also kick-starts a student’s ability to think about their distant future, since the rapidly transforming workforce will probably require completely different skills once current high school graduates finish their college education. Read how to prepare for Engineering and STEM majors while in high school.
Creating a Project that can have Real-World Impact
Identifying global problems in high school is no longer something that students can only take action on after college graduation. With science fairs and research publications becoming spaces of visibility for high school students, AI projects create an opportunity for real-world impact in research and technology.
If there are problems around the world that can be solved with technology, especially in areas like climate change and healthcare, early exposure to AI will enable them to get on that path early on.
How can You create a Project around AI in high school?
Building simple AI projects starts with learning how to code! Python is one of the most popular coding languages for AI and data science, and learning the basics is accessible on several websites online. From there, students can participate in several hackathons and coding competitions that can build a foundation for AI projects.
Another way you can build an AI project is through Veritas AI, our sister program. Veritas AI is an AI program for high school students, founded and run by Harvard graduate students. In the program, students learn the fundamentals of AI, interact with world-class AI practitioners, and can build a personalized project that they can use for college applications and beyond. The mentorship in the program is from AI practitioners and graduate students in the US, who give students individualized attention through the program. You can apply for the program here.
How is Veritas Summer Program Beneficial to Learn AI in High School?
It’s an immersive Virtual AI program for ambitious high school students. Founded by Harvard researchers, Veritas AI offers students the opportunity to work with world-class AI researchers and practitioners to learn the fundamentals of AI and build a personalized project that they can use for college applications and beyond.
There are two tracks:
Veritas AI Scholars
- Learn from AI experts about key concepts in AI and build a guided project.
- Duration: 25 hours over 10 weeks (weekends) OR 25 hours over 2 weeks (weekdays on summer break). Group lectures with a 5:1 student to mentor ratio. Program conducted online.
- Pre-requisites: None!
- Student Background: Grades 9-12, with exceptions for students in middle school with a coding background.
- Output: A group project with 3-4 other students
Veritas AI Fellowship
- Develop an independent AI project under the mentorship of an AI expert.
- Duration: 12-15 weeks, 12 1-1 sessions with a mentor who is an AI practitioner or researcher! Program conducted online.
- Pre-requisites: Basic understanding of Python or completion of AI scholars required.
- Student Background: We accept high school students and advanced middle school students for the program.
- Output: A novel AI model in a field of your interest, and a personalized mentor evaluation assessing your capabilities.