How Machine Learning for Kids is being used

July 27th, 2018

Machine Learning for Kids has been running for nearly a year now (originally as a closed beta until Oct 29th 2017, but I first shared it widely in early August 2017).

It’s evolved and grown in the last year, but from the start my idea was to provide schools and code clubs with:

  • a child-friendly tool for training a variety of types of machine learning model
  • tight integration with the Scratch visual programming language to allow kids to make AI powered games and projects
  • a set of worksheets that explain real-world uses of artificial intelligence by giving step-by-step instructions to make simple examples

The anniversary feels like a good time to look at some of the ways the tool has been used. It’s been amazing to see it being picked up and used in so many different ways, not just in the schools and code clubs near to me but all around the world. I’ve used Wakelet to collect some examples of what people have done with the site.

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Running a multi-region Cloud Foundry application in IBM Cloud

June 3rd, 2018

A few technical details on how I’m implementing global load balancing to improve the availability of Machine Learning for Kids.

This wasn’t a great week for Machine Learning for Kids. I think the site was unavailable for a couple of days in total this week, spread across a few outages – the worst one lasting over twelve hours. I know I’ve lost some users as a result – a few teachers / coding group leaders did email me to say (not at all unreasonably) that they can’t use a tool that they can’t rely on.

I wrote in my last post that I would be making changes to prevent this sort of thing from happening again. Now that I’ve done it, I thought it’d be good to share a few details on how I did it.

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Machine Learning for Kids outage report

May 30th, 2018

Machine Learning for Kids was unavailable for most of 29th May 2018. I wanted to share what happened and what I’m doing about it.

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Noughts and Crosses AI demo for Science Fair events

May 28th, 2018

A hands-on demo for use at a small STEM event – letting kids train a simple AI system by playing a few games of noughts and crosses.

I prepared an activity for a STEM event in London this week. The idea was to make something for a Science Fair sort of event – where children will be walking past a stand, and might stop for a minute or two to try out an activity.

The objective was to come up with a hands-on demo that would enable a volunteer to talk to the children about machine learning.

As I’ve written it, I thought I’d share it here in case anyone else might find it useful for another event.

Noughts and Crosses

It’s based on the noughts-and-crosses activity that I’ve used before. Kids play noughts-and-crosses against a simple artificial intelligence system. The computer uses a machine learning model to decide where to make it’s moves. And that machine learning model will be trained throughout the event using the moves from every game so far.

Download the instructions here

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Teaching artificial intelligence using Scratch

May 18th, 2018

This is a recording of a talk I did at DevoxxUK last week. Devoxx is a community developer event, run in London. I had 50 minutes to talk about what I’m doing with Machine Learning for Kids.

Groups like Code Club, CoderDojo, Code.org and many others are doing amazing work in helping to introduce kids to coding. Initiatives like Hour of Code have highlighted how those of us in tech can help to support and inspire the next generation of developers.

How can we extend this to include artificial intelligence and machine learning?

How can we use the cloud-based machine learning APIs that are increasingly available to us as developers to extend the tools used to teach kids about coding?

In this session, I’ll share the work I’ve been doing to introduce machine learning to kids, and demo the resources that are available to give kids hands-on experiences at training and using machine learning models for themselves.

If you’re familiar with AI and ML technologies, this session will hopefully enable you to share your expertise with local schools, colleges and coding groups.

If you’re not as familiar with ML, this session will show you how quick and simple cloud-based machine learning APIs are today, and perhaps inspire you to use them in your next project.

Scratch Day at IBM Hursley

May 18th, 2018

Scratch is a visual programming language and drag-and-drop coding platform for children.

scratch

Scratch Day is an annual world-wide network of events where kids come together to make things in Scratch.

Their logo sums it up beautifully:

logo

Kids of different ages come together and meet each other. They share their experiences of coding – finding out the differences between what they each learn about coding in their different schools.

They try and make something. It’s basically a hack day for kids – where the kids are encouraged to use Scratch to make their hacks.

Most importantly, they share their experiences. They talk about the things they tried, the challenges they faced, and the things they learned along the way. And they demo the things that worked.

On May 12th that happened around the world, in close to a thousand venues, big and small.

scratchdaymap

One of them was IBM Hursley. We invited local families to the lab to take part in a small local Scratch Day.

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Explaining artificial intelligence to high school students at #IBMAoTTHINK2018

April 25th, 2018

Today was the annual IBM Academy of Technology STEM event.

The annual IBM AoT SkillsBuild: STEM event inspires high school students to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Math with live presentations, lightning videos, and hands-on activity kits from IBM Volunteers. It explores how innovation matters in a wide array of industries with fun, cool demonstrations. Train a computer to play its own video game. Play a table top space exploration game with Quantum computing. Build an emotionally empathetic Chatbot with IBM Watson. Protect yourself from cyberbullying. Learn about an Escape room on cybersecurity, and more!

There was a fascinating line-up of talks to educate and inspire the kids. Kids attend in person, and also by watching the talks from their schools via a livestream – allowing thousands of kids to get involved.

I was invited to do a fifteen-minute talk to explain artificial intelligence to the students. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it in person, so I had to resort to contributing a presentation by video for the livestream.

Here was my talk… an attempt to try and help AI make sense to kids, by talking them through machine learning projects that I’ve helped children to make.

Explaining crowd-sourcing in machine learning

January 31st, 2018

I pushed a new feature to Machine Learning for Kids last night: “class projects”. Now a whole class of students can work on a project together – all helping to train a shared, group machine learning model.

I’ll write some proper documentation for it, but in the meantime I thought I’d share a few quick thoughts on how this works and what it’s for.

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