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Fascinating learning sessions

Our students have been involved in some fascinating learning sessions recently. Here’s just a few:

Microsoft Azure Fundamentals

Ten Year 10 and 12 students made the most of a professional-level training opportunity on cloud computing technologies with the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals course, with free access to this Microsoft qualification provided by the local Microsoft team. Thursday June 10 saw an introduction to artificial intelligence (AI) and Friday’s session was an introduction to the Microsoft Azure development environments.

This was a great opportunity for students to access this resource, which is normally only available to businesses.


Intel AI and machine learning sessions

Intel’s Inspire Team Sarah Wolstencroft, Vanessa Kandodo and Lucy Roberts delivered two sessions on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to Year 10 computing students on June 15-16.

On Tuesday Sarah and Vanessa explained what AI and machine learning are: AI - a program with the ability to learn and reason like humans do; and machine - a program with the ability to learn without being specifically programmed.

The teaching touched on the ethics and issues behind such programs, for example ensuring that any data given to a machine is unbiased (so not more swayed towards a certain gender, ethnicity or age group). Sarah introduced the idea of unconscious bias here, the idea that when working with humans it is almost impossible to ensure that there is no bias at play.

She went on to explain the difference between supervised learning – when a computer or machine is given a particular data training set and the machine’s task is to predict the correct output or label - and unsupervised learning – where the machine is left to find patterns in data itself without labels or correct outputs, so the machine’s task is to discover the structure of the data.

Vanessa used an online machine learning tool called moralmachine.net to demonstrate the complexity of the decisions a machine has to make. Based on the example of a driverless car experiencing brake failure and having to choose which person or group of people to run over, students entered into a lively discussion, which highlighted their own bias.

Wednesday’s session allowed students to get involved using Google’s Teachable Machine, experimenting with teaching a machine by feeding it with data. The students really engaged with this session, asking Lucy and Sarah lots of questions and learning a lot about the world of AI and machine learning.

Year 10 students who attended the Intel session, Mehrollah Shah Baksha, Aly Mohammad and Salahuddin Butt said they found them: ‘engaging and interesting’ ‘gave a realistic overview of the concepts,’ were ‘practical, enjoyable and entertaining,’ and ‘interactive and informative, yet easy to understand’.

The students would like to thank the Intel for arranging this session for them.


Vodafone Systems Design and Analysis Project

Vodafone continued with its Systems Design and Analysis Project for Year 12 students on Wednesday June 16. Students have completed the RFI (background planning) part of the project and have now started on the RFP part, in which they will develop their proposals related to the brief the Vodafone team set them before May half term.

We’re excited to see what the outcomes are of this great project!


Readilab session

A-level biology students took part in the second part of the University of Reading’s Readilab programme on June 16.

To open Dr Dyan Sellayah gave a lecture on nutrition, genes and disease, followed by a gene-environment interactions quiz to test how well students had been paying attention during the lecture!

Example questions included:
Which of these is NOT an autoimmune condition? Lupus, Osteoarthritis, Type 1 Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis (answer: Osteoarthritis)
Which of these places has the lowest rate of autoimmune disease? Tropical Africa, Eastern Europe, Australia or North America (answer Tropical Africa)
Non-human African primates do NOT suffer from immunodeficiency/AIDs-related diseases, true or false? Answer: true.

Dr Sellayah then introduced a case study where the patient had a suspected diagnosis of Familial Hypercholesterolemia. Students were asked what further tests would be required to confirm this diagnosis, before being presented with the results of a genetic analysis test and cholesterol analysis of the patient and the family, which they were required to analyse and draw conclusions about the genetics and environment of the family. The group then discussed the prognosis for the patient and possible treatments that could help her. It was a fascinating insight into the process involved in assessing nutrition, genetics and disease.

The students will finish up with an interactive workshop on July 2.

  • Active Learning
  • Microsoft
  • Cisco
  • University of Reading
  • Network Rail
  • Peter Brett