Robots, cats and cakes – report on our second virtual eyeYPAG meeting by Elena

By Vijay Tailor-Hamblin,

We had our second online meeting with Zoom on 27th June, and it was a really great experience. Seeing people that I hadn’t interacted with for ages was refreshing, as lockdown life meant that I was seeing lots of the same people –mainly adults. This group reminded me that my voice as a young person was still important, even during a global pandemic.

We started off with a ‘show and tell’ warm up where people shared things they’d made or done during lockdown, including some great art, delicious-looking baking and wild swimming; it’s just a shame we could only see and not eat the cakes!
Then we agreed the group ground rules we’ve been developing – which we decided to call ‘shared agreements’. We decided on this phrase through voting, which was just as quick and easy as in real life. We’re going to think of ways to share these in a fun and creative way.

After this, Jacq and Ros held a session about learning interview skills for a project that some of us are going to get involved with in the near future. We learned the key skills in making children our own age comfortable in an interview setting, and how to get the information that we want. I thought this session was helpful, and it made me feel as if I could really interview someone just like me – I have never done this before.
Jacq said: “At our taster session with Ros, an actress who is going to teach interview skills to those interested, we were impressed with the knowledge eyeYPAG members already had about how to approach interviewing. They suggested an interviewer needs to be non-judgemental, calm, show good listening skills, be non-pushy, be prepared, keep information confidential, give time to the interviewee, show interest in what they are saying and be mindful and sensitive that a topic may be upsetting for the interviewee. They had a try using open questions starting with who, what, why, where, when and how, to extract more information from an interviewee. I’m really excited that 5 eyeYPAG members volunteered to train to become interviewers for the Ci2i Project at the end of the session”.

After a break we worked with Jo, Helen and James from the Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre for a session on ‘What is Data and how can we use it?’. We started thinking about the idea by planning how to programme a robot called ALICE on how to tell the difference between cats and other animals. I found it hard as a robot needs a lot to distinguish between different animals, as they don’t have perceptive vision. We had to think in ALICE’s shoes, and what picture she would be building in her head from the information that we give her. For example, just because we say the animal had ears and thick hair, it doesn’t necessarily describe the features of a cat. You could say the same thing about a dog too.

Jo, Helen and James said: “Joining the YPAG group for an online discussion about machine learning and the use of data was a great opportunity for us at the BRC to explore young people’s perspectives. It was fascinating to hear from all of them about their knowledge and interest in Big Eye Data and how we can use it. They asked some really searching questions like: would my data be sent to someone I don’t know? And, what else might be done with the data after it has been used for this research? They are great at putting themselves in the shoes of someone who’s being asked to lend their data for research Sometimes this YPAG group has ideas and asks questions that adults have too but don’t ask. They’re such a thoughtful and enthusiastic group and we are very excited about finding out from them in the next session, what questions they have about the INSIGHT project, how we can answer them together, and where we can put those questions and answers so that Young People can find them when they want to”.

Finally, we celebrated our group winning a public involvement award from the BRC. Read more information about this here and this is the film we made for the award: