St Paul’s Juniors / Juniors News
Bebras 2019

I arrived at the entrance of the building expecting a quiet room with people staring at books calculating the square root of 2.

Instead, as I instantly walked through the main doors, I was greeted by people rushing to give me timetables, wristbands and telling me which group I was in. The first thing Henry and I saw from the timetable was that it didn’t look as hard as we were expecting. I had been expecting lots of long and tiring tests, our minds having to face impossible problems that involved lots of numbers. It turns out that our timetable went like this; Lecture, Break, Challenge, Tour, Lunch, Lecture, Break, Prize-giving and then finally another tour. Out of our 7-hour day, only 50 minutes of that were spent doing challenges.

The day started off with a lecture about Artificial Intelligence. We listened to Professor Peter Milican talk about Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace’s ideas for a machine that could do anything and he eventually moved on to talk about the Turing Test and if machines could think. After a 25 minute break spent eating cookies, we moved on to the challenge. We were joyfully told that this test would be even harder than the first round. The test was similar to the first round but had more questions and they were harder. The time finished suddenly, not giving us an extra second to click the save button as we trudged along to a tour, stressed about how well we had done in the test. We didn’t have much time for the tour but we did end up going to the famous bridge at Hertford College. 

Finally, it was time for lunch. We headed to the hall which looked exactly like the Great Hall in Harry Potter, with its long tables and benches. Lunch was followed by another talk about a chatbot made by Joseph Weizenbaum in 1964 called Elizabeth. It was the start of AI and we were taught how it worked and how to modify it and make it more personal and realistic. 

At the end of the day we had the prize-giving. Our stress mounted as we waited for our school name to be called. We went up, got our certificates, said our thank-yous and went to sit down. We compared scores with each other and once it was all over we met up for the tour of yet another college, Keble. However, we got to see this college in much more detail. We learnt that each college had its own bar, hall, chapel and library. Apparently the hall in Keble College was the biggest of all the colleges and they were also asked by Warner Bros Studios if they could film Harry Potter there as well. It was very fun and I think we all learnt a lot from it.

Louis, L3W

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