Archive for the ‘misc’ Category

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.
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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 machinelearningforkids.co.uk/worksheets 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 competition@machinelearningforkids.co.uk 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!

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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.

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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!

Looking back at Machine Learning for Kids in 2020

Saturday, January 2nd, 2021

A review of what I did on Machine Learning for Kids in 2020.

Happy New Year!

At this time of year, it’s traditional to get a bit reflective, so I thought I’d look over the work I did on ML for Kids in 2020.
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Introducing ‘Machine Learning for Kids’ to teachers

Thursday, December 17th, 2020

I gave a short talk about Machine Learning for Kids last week as part of an online conference run by Somerset eLIM. Here’s the recording.


youtu.be/8St1REZbE5w

I started with a couple of definitions, then demonstrated a variety of projects that I’ve seen primary school students make, and finally walked people through a hands-on demo so they could try it out for themselves.

#SwitchGameADay

Saturday, May 23rd, 2020

For a while now, I’ve been playing a different Nintendo Switch game every day, sharing a video clip on Twitter.

In this post I’ll collect together all of the clips, and the answers to the questions I’ve been asked along the way.


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The Artificial Intelligence Grand Challenge

Monday, November 4th, 2019

The first of the Grand Challenges identified in the Government’s Industrial Strategy is about Artificial Intelligence. One of the things that these challenges highlight is the UK’s need for skills in these key areas.

To that end, STEM Learning and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have created the “Grand Challenges – Our Futures” programme to improve young people’s knowledge of the STEM skills identified in the Government’s Industrial Strategy Grand Challenges.

Last week, STEM Learning announced a set of new free resources to support teaching in these key areas.

The Artificial Intelligence resources include three different packages aimed at students of different ages.


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