Posts Tagged ‘scratch’

Machine Learning for Kids event at Hursley

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

On Tuesday, a couple of dozen children (aged 8-14) spent the afternoon at Hursley so I could give them an intro to machine learning using some of the activities I’ve written for

I think it went pretty well, so I thought it’d be good to share what we did.

This was what the room looked like before the kids arrived… with just my two kids helping me set up. It all got a lot busier after this!

The general approach was letting them all work at computers, guided by a worksheet to build something that illustrated an aspect of machine learning. And then following this with a group discussion to draw out what they observed and what it meant.

We did this all together for the first couple of activities. Because of the large age range in the group, after this I let them split up and tackle different activities at different speeds, and followed this up by discussing their projects with them in smaller groups.


Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

I’d like to introduce “Machine Learning for Kids“: a tool to help school children learn about machine learning by making things with it.

The video above is a walkthrough of the tool and examples of how I’ve been using it. The rest of this post is a transcript for the video. is a simple tool for training a variety of types of machine learning model, and an environment for creating games and other interactive projects that use them.

This is done by extending Scratch: a visual programming environment created to teach coding to kids, that is widely used in schools and other educational organisations like Code Club and Girls Who Code.

It gives students a blank canvas without prescribing what they make. They’re free to use their imagination and creativity to find fun uses for the machine learning models that they train.


Introducing Machine Learning to kids

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

Today, I was helping out with a Computing summer school for teachers in London.

As part of this, I gave a presentation about machine learning to a room full of school teachers – about what it is, why I think we should be introducing it in the classroom, and how I think we could do that.

My slides are on Slideshare, but they might not make a lot of sense by themselves, so I’ll jot down here roughly what I said.

slide 1

This morning I want to talk to you about machine learning. In particular, I want to talk with you about machine learning in the context of education and how it could be introduced in the classroom.

slide 2

I’m going to try and cover three main points.

Firstly, a quick level set on what I mean by machine learning.
Then I’d like to talk about why I believe it’s important that we do this.
Finally, I want to talk about the practicalities of how we could effectively introduce machine learning in an accessible way.


I-Spy (using Watson services from Scratch projects)

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

It’s half-term week, so that means more time for geekiness with the kids.

This is something Grace made this week: a game of “I spy” built using Scratch, that uses the Watson Vision Recognition API to let the game dynamically pick objects that it recognises in photos, so you can then make guesses.

Apart from being a fun game to make in it’s own right, I wanted to share why I particularly think it’s useful to be able to use Watson API’s from Scratch projects.

Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 13.43.53


The skills implications of Cognitive Computing

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

STEMtech is a conference about the education of science, technology, engineering and maths. The attendees are an interesting mix of people from education and policy makers, as well as people like me from industry.

This year, they invited me to do a talk. My slides are shared but they’ll make no sense by themselves. What follows is roughly what I think I said.


Recycling: a Scratch game for Code Club

Sunday, April 19th, 2015

Grace and Faith have been helping me work on a new project for Code Club. It’s not quite finished yet (Excuse: Thanks to the holidays, it’s still over a week till my next Code Club class!), but it’s close enough that I thought it’s worth sharing the work-in-progress.

The basic idea (more than a little inspired by an old Mega Drive game we’ve played) is that you have to catch falling bits of rubbish and put them in the correct recycling bin.

A playable version is embedded here if you’re using a Flash-friendly browser. Press the green flag to start, use the arrow keys to run left and right, and press the space bar to throw what you’re carrying. (If the embed isn’t working, you can also get to it on the Scratch website.)

I’ve started writing up how we made it, using Code Club’s lesson format tool. (A tool that reads Markdown with a few Code Club-specific extras).

The write-up is still a little rough around the edges, but the source for what we’ve got so far is on github.

And I’ve used lesson_format to create HTML and PDF versions in the Code Club style.

Taking a kid to a barcamp… again

Saturday, May 10th, 2014

Last year, Grace tagged along with me to Barcamp Berkshire. She gave a talk, and it went pretty well.

I guess she must’ve enjoyed it, because today she came along with me to Barcamp Bournemouth.

I’ll write a post about what she talked about later, as it was actually pretty interesting. First, I want to get the shameless proud dad post out of the way. 🙂


Starting a Code Club

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

logo This year I started a Code Club at my local primary school.

It’s still early days for me (I’ve only run four sessions of the Club so far) so I’m obviously not an expert on this stuff. But I thought I’d share some of my first impressions as a volunteer.

What is Code Club about?

If you’ve not heard of it before, Code Club is about giving children aged 9 – 11 a chance to try computer programming.

“A nationwide network of volunteer-led after school coding clubs for children aged 9-11”

It isn’t something that they normally cover in primary school (in theory, this should all change from September 2014 with Year of Code, but we’ll see how that works out), so Code Club is an attempt to introduce programming in primary school, rather than wait until it gets introduced in Secondary school.