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5.12.19 12 29.6.2023 NEWS AI heroes at Julian's InventaLand IN an exciting initiative, Julian's Pathfinder Foundation has set the stage for an exhilarating jour- ney into Artificial Intelligence (AI) at Julian's InventaLand. Nestled in the heart of the Uni- versity of Malta, supported by the Faculty of Information and Communication Technology, this event captivated the imagi- nation of children aged 5 to 10. ese are not just any children, though. ey are gifted learners, exceptional young minds who display a remarkable aptitude for learning that surpasses the norm for their age group. ey thirst for knowledge, and their intellectual curiosity is insatia- ble. ey quickly grasp complex ideas, often understanding con- cepts that baffle their peers (and sometimes adults). ese gifted children have an inherent ability to connect disparate ideas, see patterns where others do not, and challenge the status quo with their unique perspectives. e event was a testament to their in- credible potential, allowing them to delve into the complex world of Artificial Intelligence. A field which perfectly aligns with their advanced intellectual capabilities and boundless curiosity. e AI Heroes programme is tailored to inspire new learn- ers to welcome technology and innovation. e module, struc- tured in a two-hour session, guides these young participants to create their own AI sidekick, tackle intricate problems, inter- rogate a chatbot, and ultimate- ly defend the world from nasty machines (Disclaimer: no robots were hurt during those two hours). roughout this journey, the children delve into various facets of AI, including machine learning, natural language pro- cessing, virtual reality, and aug- mented reality. At the helm of this programme was Prof. Alexiei Dingli, a Pro- fessor of Artificial Intelligence within the Faculty of ICT at the University of Malta. His knowl- edge and expertise, combined with an interactive teaching ap- proach, provided an enjoyable learning experience for the chil- dren. With their quick minds and unquenchable curiosity, these young learners found themselves in an environment that not only accepted their advanced abili- ties but celebrated and nurtured them. Each concept introduced by Prof. Dingli was met with ea- ger eyes, thoughtful questions, and an enthusiasm that echoed throughout the room. e chil- dren's natural affinity for learning was amplified by the professor's dynamic teaching style, which made the complex subjects of machine learning, natural lan- guage processing, virtual reality, and augmented reality accessible and engaging. ey eagerly ab- sorbed the knowledge, the room brimming with an energy that only comes when young minds are genuinely captivated. rough Prof. Dingli's guid- ance, the children were not merely passive recipients of in- formation but active participants in their own learning journey, each step bringing them closer to becoming the AI Heroes the program intended them to be. Erika Micallef, an experienced educator and program director for Julian's InventaLand, under- scored the paramount impor- tance of such initiatives. ese exceptional learners often re- quire more advanced and stim- ulating learning environments to harness their full potential. Julian's InventaLand, with its AI Heroes program, is an ideal plat- form for providing such oppor- tunities. ese children, endowed with an exceptional capacity for learning, are often under-served by traditional educational pro- grams, leading to unfulfilled potential and often frustration. e AI Heroes program caters to their unique needs by presenting challenging tasks and complex concepts. As these gifted learners nav- igate the world of Artificial In- telligence, they're given the free- dom to experiment, question, and innovate. More importantly, they are shown that their only limitation is their imagination. is approach piques their intel- lectual curiosity and allows them to apply their learning in practi- cal scenarios, empowering them to become active contributors to the ever-evolving world of tech- nology. e programme's success re- sulted from a collective effort. Pierre Cassar, the Administra- tive Director of the Marketing, Communications & Alumni Office at the University of Mal- ta, played an instrumental role in orchestrating the event's finer details. At the same time, Prof. Carl James Debono, the Dean of the Faculty of Information & Communication Technology, extended the generous support of his faculty's resources. How- ever, this alliance went beyond providing a physical location for the event; it signalled an une- quivocal affirmation of the Uni- versity of Malta's dedication to fostering the growth of young minds. By supporting platforms like the AI Heroes programme, the University has reinforced its commitment to supporting gift- ed learners and shaping them into the innovators and leaders of tomorrow. Since its inception in 2021, Ju- lian's Pathfinder Foundation has been a driving force in childhood education. ey are not simply nurturing young, bright minds but reshaping the idea of what learning can be. e AI Heroes program stands as a shining ex- ample of their mission. It pro- vides an intellectually stimulat- ing environment ideally suited for gifted children, encouraging them to reach their full potential. e programme has been praised for its novel approach. It seamlessly combines hands-on learning with developing critical thinking and technological skills. It's where children do more than learn about AI concepts - they actively apply them through en- gaging and challenging tasks. e result is a captivating jour- ney of learning that goes beyond the conventional classroom ex- perience. Initiatives like the AI Heroes program are pivotal in this journey, guiding children to- wards becoming the innovators and leaders of tomorrow.

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