Archive for the ‘misc’ Category

Trying new things

Thursday, July 27th, 2023

I’m a fan of trying unusual things. In this post, I thought I’d share some examples of things I’ve done in the last year or so, in case it gives you an idea of something you might want to try.


Catching the carpool cheats

Monday, July 24th, 2023

I’ve added a new project worksheet to Machine Learning for Kids, based on the idea of a traffic camera in a carpool lane.

Students create training examples by labelling pictures of cars with random passengers in.

recording of creating the training examples at


My TEDx talk

Monday, July 24th, 2023

The videos from TEDx Winchester 2023 are now live on YouTube – including a recording of my talk. This feels like a good point to look at back at what the experience was like.


Walking to work

Friday, July 21st, 2023

My commute changed a few weeks ago – from a short drive, to a cross-country walk. I had to return my company car as we don’t do them any more, and I chose not to replace it. So now I’m starting and ending my day with a walk.


Talking about machine learning for kids

Saturday, September 18th, 2021

I was lucky enough to be invited onto a couple of podcasts this month to talk about Machine Learning for Kids.

Win a copy of my “Machine Learning for Kids” book

Saturday, April 24th, 2021

I’m running a competition to win a copy of my book, “Machine Learning for Kids”.

I mentioned a few months ago that I’ve written a book: “Machine Learning for Kids“.

I’ve got some spare copies of it that need a good home, so I thought it might be fun to run a competition!

I’ve got five copies that I’m going to give away in this competition.

To enter, I’m looking for new ideas for teaching children about AI and machine learning.

This could be an idea for a new machine learning project worksheet. You can see for examples of the sorts of thing this could cover. You could contribute a new worksheet, or if you’d prefer, you can just explain your idea for a new project worksheet and what students would learn from it.

This can include an idea for a new feature or capability on the Machine Learning for Kids website. You could contribute a design for the new capability, or you can just explain how it would work and what students would learn from it.

To take part, email your ideas to by 4th June 2021.

I’ll choose my five favourite ideas, and post a free paperback copy of my book to each of the five winners.

Full details and terms below, but please note the really big one: UK residents only, please. Sorry, but I don’t want to get into international shipping – so please only enter if you’ve got a UK address I could post a book to!


Machine learning workshop for school teachers

Friday, April 2nd, 2021

This week I ran a remote workshop for school teachers about machine learning and artificial intelligence. It was organised with University College London as part of a series of activities they are running to celebrate the CS Expo: 40+ years of UCL Computer Science.

It was quite a long session, as we wanted it to be a hands-on practical CPD (Continuing Professional Development) workshop rather than just me giving a short talk. In the 90-minute workshop, we made two separate AI projects, which was a chance to see and contrast a few different approaches.


I wrote a book

Sunday, January 24th, 2021

It’s called “Machine Learning for Kids: A Project-Based Introduction to Artificial Intelligence”.

It’s a hands-on, application-based introduction to machine learning and artificial intelligence that guides young readers through creating compelling AI-powered games and applications using the Scratch programming language.

Since starting the Machine Learning for Kids site, I’ve written project worksheets to inspire students and teachers what can be built using the tool. By making them freely available as Creative Commons-licensed MS Word docs, they’ve been a jumping off point to help teachers and code-club leaders to create their own lessons and activities.

As I’ve written the worksheets with schools and code clubs in mind, that introduced constraints.

Each worksheet is self-contained – many schools will only have time in their timetable/curriculum for one, or maybe two, AI projects, so a lot of the projects retread some of the same basics. None of them build on, or even refer to, any of the other worksheets. They also need to be short activities, so that they can be completed within a school lesson.

Writing a book version of Machine Learning for Kids was a chance to do something for a different audience: this time aimed at a child at home with their parents.

This means I didn’t have the same constraints as the worksheets on the site. It’s still based on explaining machine learning in a hands-on way through making projects in Scratch. But there’s a flow between the projects in the book. They’re in an intentional order, and there is a continuation between them. Each project builds upon the projects that came before it.

Some of the projects take a bit longer as they don’t need to be done in one sitting. I have more time and space to explain the ideas and to give the real-world context for each project. As each project doesn’t need to work as an introduction, it means the later chapters can get into more advanced topics that none of the project worksheets on the site go near, like accuracy, recall, and confidence matrices.

It’s been a lot of work. A lot more than I expected. Over two years of work. And not just by me: I had no idea how many people would be involved in making the book into a real thing. I’ve not really worked with editors before, and it has been a fascinating experience. They made my rambling gibbering so so much better that I’m almost embarrassed that only my name is on the cover. There’s no way the finished thing would be nearly as good without their work.

There were a few points where I wondered if it’d ever actually see the light of day – but it’s finally available. (Well, the e-book is available now, but the printed version is still a couple of weeks away).

I hope people find it useful! I am proud of it. I’m particularly proud of the Foreword, which I didn’t even write. It was very generously written by Grady Booch, and it’s the perfect inspirational start to what I wanted the book to be.

It’s very strange to see something I’ve written in online bookshops. It’s in Amazon, Waterstones, and WHSmith. That feels a bit weird. I hope that at some point I’ll get to see a printed copy in a real bookshop, but I suspect that won’t be any time soon!