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AI and Machine Learning for High School Students: What you should know

Updated: Sep 2, 2021


High school is a great time to pursue one’s passions, develop unique skills, solutions, and innovations, and explore career futures. Artificial Intelligence is an emerging technology that is being adopted in every industry from finance to medicine, to fishery. High School students can use AI and machine learning to solve problems, create new products, launch non-profits, and startup companies to demonstrate their entrepreneurial skills, and more. In this blog post, we cover our experiences with helping high school students excel using AI and answer common questions that students and parents have about what to do and how to get started.


What is AI for High School vs Machine Learning for High School?


If you are just getting started you may notice that some people talk about AI for High School while some talk about Machine Learning for High School. What is the difference between these terms? Artificial intelligence refers to a collection of technologies that all help computers do things that come easily to the human brain (like recognizing images, forming strategies, and so on). Machine Learning is a subset of Artificial Intelligence and is also a collection of techniques (such as recognizing patterns, making forecasts, etc.). From a high school student's perspective, these are interchangeable terms. As you learn more about AI, you will be able to identify specific techniques and which techniques are good for which problems.


What AI projects can I do in High School?


There is a very wide range of AI projects that high school students can do. With an 8th grade knowledge of algebra, you know enough to understand the basics of how to measure an AI and improve it. Even with no coding knowledge, it is now possible to build powerful AIs to solve problems like detecting Lung Cancer from CT Scans or build social good apps like using AI to help the blind. What you need to learn is how AI works, how to build one, and how to find a good dataset for a project.


What makes a good high school AI project?


Given that even elementary school and middle school kids are now building AI, a high school project should be more distinctive. The main focus should be to solve a real-world problem (choose one that is meaningful to you or captures your interest) and use real-world data. Fortunately, there are many publicly available data sources for everything from MRI scans for detecting Alzheimer's to satellite images for detecting wildfires. A good high school AI project should demonstrate how you have solved a real-world problem using AI, who can benefit from your solution (who is your user) and how they can access your solution (as a website, an app, etc.)


Should I take an AI summer program as a high school student?


Yes! We highly recommend it. If you are new to AI, summer is a great time to explore AI without the stresses of regular school. If you are looking to do an AI project, summer is also a great time to focus on developing your project idea, finding a good dataset, running experiments, getting an AI working, and building out an app or a website to help users access your solution. From a science fair perspective (for US and western students), summer is a great time to get a head start on a science fair project before school starts in the fall. Similarly, many competitions have submission deadlines in the first half of the year, so summer is a great time to get started on a new idea if you want to submit it to a competition.


How can I get an AI internship?


Internships are an awesome opportunity to practice your skills in a real-world context. We have had high school students who have learned AI with us go on to do internships, and the skills they have found valuable are to not just learn the concepts but also apply them in practical ways on real datasets (this is the difference between building toy AIs that are fun and using real datasets like those noted above).


Can doing AI projects in High School help me with college applications?


Yes indeed. As seen in this blog post, over 30% of the winning projects in the Silicon Valley Synopsys Science Fair in 2021 used AI. The topics of these projects varied widely - from self-driving cars to medical applications - but they all had a few things in common. Students were able to use AI to create unique solutions to real-world problems and demonstrate via experimentation how well their solutions worked. These wins are accomplishments that will serve these students well in their college applications and beyond.


We have also found that high school students can use AI to do unique research - targeting not just science fairs but also publications and entrepreneurship (non-profit organizations, startups, etc.). See our recently held AI Student Research Symposium for example innovations in AI from middle school and high school students.


So - what do I do to get started?


If you are new to AI, take an introductory class or camp and build your first project with real data. You can find our High School AI classes and camps here.


If you are ready to do a science project, a research project, build an app, write a research paper, etc. contact us for a 1:1 consultation at info@pyxeda.ai. We have expert mentors with PhDs in computer science, decades of industry, and research/publication experience who can help you.


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