Get ready, science fair judges: here comes Moore’s John Cody Gilbert

Managing Editor

Moore student John Cody Gilbert stands by a large monitor screen in the Superintendent’s office earlier this month. The eighth grader is busy with technology projects, including developing an artificial intelligence program for his science fair entry.
Photo by Deb Hill



It’s safe to say John Cody Gilbert is not your average eighth grader, not with interests such as fabricating his own computer and working with artificial intelligence.

The soft-spoken Moore student recently built a computer using components such as an Intel Core i7 processor, Asus Strix gaming graphics card and 32 gigabytes of memory. Have no idea what all that means? Just ask John Cody – he can explain.

“It took about three weeks to get things working smoothly,” John Cody said. “But I finally got it working well.”

And here’s what makes this story such a perfect Central Montana tale: John Cody was able to purchase the parts to make his computer because of money he earned from selling his 4-H cows.

In addition to building computers, John Cody recently took on another “techie” activity. In his spare time, along with two of his friends, he is responsible for live-streaming the Moore sports games, allowing those who can’t make it to the game to watch it online in real time.

“Ms. Chrest (Moore Superintendent Denise Chrest) asked me if I was interested, and along with my friends Conner and Rowdy, I’ve been doing this for about three weeks,” John Cody said.

In order to film the events, the boys sit in the press box high above the game. They only live stream the home games. John Cody said he recently started doing commentary for the games, but finds it a little nerve-wracking.

“I have to be careful about what I say,” he said, adding that his mother suggested he watch an MBA game and listen to the commentator for ideas.

A major focus of John Cody’s life at the moment revolves around his project for the school science fair, coming in March. He is busy developing an artificial intelligence program that he hopes to program to learn values.

“I went to a computer summer camp and I got connected with some computer instructors from the University of Montana,” John Cody said. “That’s how it started. Now I am working with Dr. Wright, who is helping me with the programming. I am working feverishly on it and I hope I can have it finished in time.”

Dr. Alden Wright is an emeritus professor at the University of Montana in the Computer Science Department.

“He is helping me with using the Markov decision process, which is a way to model decision making,” John Cody explained, adding that he hopes to get to “Q learning,” with help from the professor.

Asked if he is at all concerned that those judging his science fair project will not understand what went into creating it, John Cody said it is something that worried him a little.

“With programming you have many ways to implement things, so nothing is concrete,” John Cody said, explaining why not everything he is attempting to do with artificial intelligence is black and white, and takes a lot of time and thought.

When he is not behind the camera at a game or working on computer programming, John Cody lives with his father, Jamie Gilbert, who runs S&G Livestock in Moore, his mother Lisa Gilbert, who is a counselor in Lewistown, and his younger brother Trace.


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