Busy summer for coding and algorithms club

Club members took the initiative to work on projects that improved their skills and have the potential for real-world impact.
Moayyad Shahid, a Year 11 student, began coding in Year 4 and has built a drone that's programmed to detect trees, humans, cars and houses.

"It’s amazing what one person can create," Moayyad says. "Many of our club projects are self-driven. But we also ask for advice and I’ve received some mentoring within the club, so I hope I can do the same."

Moayyad had wanted a drone for some time, so he did some research and built one from components, installed the necessary software and tested it. Next, he added a mini-computer and wrote the code to allow it to find and identify specific objects.

"I wanted to dabble in machine learning and AI," he says. "It wasn’t my first exposure, but I took it to the next level. With the drone, I just jumped into something I knew absolutely nothing about.

"It’s something I love and something I want to do in the future. AI can do a lot of good by automating tasks so people can explore things they love and create a better world around us."

Coding is a passion for Shaya Farahmand, a Year 10 student and junior head of the club’s data science and machine learning section.

"I saw the growing influence of computers in society and was curious about who made the software," he says. "There are so many more exponential technologies such as AI that are evolving, too. I started learning AI during the pandemic and wanted to do a project with societal impact and a greater purpose."

Shaya created a program that could review, X-ray and predict with 90 per cent accuracy whether or not the lungs being viewed had pneumonia or not, a classification problem that required research and testing. The model works quickly and efficiently.

"When you code, there is always an Aha! moment of joy," Shaya says. He’ll be experiencing it again soon as he finishes up a project designed to detect credit card fraud.

Gordon Liang, who’s in Year 10 and the club’s head of project development, created a program with an optimized search algorithm to solve the Rubik's Cube in about a second. It’s a brute force approach that tests sequences of moves, is optimized for speed and solves with the fewest moves possible. 

Gordon began playing with the colourful cubes as a Year 5 student and is now so proficient that he can manually solve one in 10 seconds. The method both he and the computer use is the CFOP method, which solves the cube layer by layer.

To create his program, he used the Python programming language, which he learned with his father’s help. Gordon has made the open source code available on Github so others can use the program, too. 

"Coding involves a lot of problem solving and requires troubleshooting,” he says. "Sometimes, it can be pretty frustrating, but it can be exciting, too."

Design teacher Paul Miskew, the club’s sponsor, credits its executive, Year 12 student Kevin Liu and Jefferson Ding, Year 11, for its success. 

"The club allows for cross-grade collaboration, which is terrific," Miskew says. "Your grade doesn’t define your abilities and interests and it is developing a community of students who are not just programmers, but applying programming in a variety of personal and academic pursuits. I really think this club is driving a culture of innovation and design in the school."
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