How to teach your kids about Machine Learning and AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are part of our everyday lives in so many ways! They are everywhere as spam filters, recommendation engines, translation services, chatbots and personal assistants, search engines, and fraud detection systems. You can find them in our mobile apps, self-driving cars, and eCommerce platforms that suggest products based on previous behavior.

However, their underlying processes and concepts are rarely exposed to most people. Children aren’t any exception.

Like most adults, kids lack the opportunity to explore AI processes and enhance the understanding of basic Machine Learning concepts and essential building blocks. Understanding the fundamental concepts is becoming important for people of all ages, including children, who are growing up in an environment that integrates AI and ML products more than ever before.

In this post, we introduce eight resources you can use to teach your kids about the fundamental concepts in Machine Learning and AI.

1. Machine Learning for Kids

Machine Learning for Kids is a free, easy-to-use, web-based tool, built by Dale Lane using APIs from IBM Watson to introduce children to how machine learning systems are trained and used in real-world AI applications. It provides hands-on experiences for training machine learning systems that recognize text, numbers, images, or sounds. It teaches coding to children by adding these systems to educational coding platforms like Scratch and App Inventor and helps children create projects and games. First made available in 2017, the tool is now being used in thousands of classrooms in schools, volunteer-run coding groups, clubs, and by families around the world. The tool provides an admin page for teachers to manage access for their students.

2. Experiments with Google

Experiments with Google is an open-source platform with full of great ideas on AI, AR, VR, Voice experiments, Android, and even Chrome experiments. The tool allows us to run plenty of simple AI experiments that make it easier to explore machine learning through pictures, drawings, language, music, and more. Teachable Machine, for instance, enables kids to create machine learning models without any coding skills. It helps you train a computer to recognize your images, sounds, & poses, then export your model for your sites or apps. MixLab is an experiment that creates music using simple voice commands. Voice Experiments make it easier for developers to create new voice experiences that work on devices such as the Google Home, or browser, while AR Experiments allow them to experiment with augmented reality in exciting ways.

3. IBM’s Machine Learning for Kids

Machine Learning for Kids, powered by IBM, is another web-based, 1-4 hours long activity kit that helps students train simple machine-learning models and create games and interactive projects. The kids can input a dataset, and the machine will create links that help it answer questions that are not in the data. They can pick from over two dozen activities to fit your time and audience age requirements. All that you need is a computer with internet access.

4. Cognimates

Cognimates by MIT Media Lab is an open-source AI education platform for parents and children (7-10 years old) to learn how to build games, program robots, and train their own AI models. Designed to extend coding to AI education and literacy, Cognimates is based on the Scratch programming language that provides a unique library of tools and activities for AI education. Some activities are mediated by embodied intelligent agents that help learners scaffold learning and collaborate more effectively. The platform allows children to program and customize embodied intelligent devices, such as Alexa and the smart robot Cozmo.

5. Scratch

Scratch is a free, block-based visual programming language and online community for children. Developed by the MIT Media Lab for ages 8 to 16, but used by people of all ages, Scratch allows users to program their own interactive games, stories, animations and share their creations with the online community. Till now, more than 40 million projects have been shared by over 40 million users in more than 150 different countries. The tool is available in 40 languages.

6. eCraft2Learn

eCraft2Learn project enables children and non-expert programmers to build AI programs in Snap!, a visual programming environment similar to Scratch. It is an ecosystem, based on digital fabrication and making technologies for creating computer-supported artifacts. It supports both formal and informal learning. The ecosystem involves a five-stage pedagogical model that starts with student’s ideas, followed by a planning stage that includes brainstorming, iterative designs, trail and errors, reflections upon designs, and finally, sharing the finished project with the open community.

7. Apps for Good

Apps for Good is a UK-based not-for-profit that prepares students for an ever-changing world, offering free creative tech courses. It creates resources for teaching technology subjects that they make freely available to schools. It Machine Learning course comprises 12 sessions with a range of additional materials like schemes of work, lesson plans, student workbooks, presentations, and more.

8. YoungWonks

YoungWonks is a coding and engineering program for kids and teens. The course has five levels, and the fifth level covers machine learning and AI, teaching methods to build intelligent machines with SciPi, OpenCV, and TensorFlow.