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Give your kids a free MIT education, with this new STEM-focused site

The legendary technology school launches a new website aimed at teaching K-12 students about AI.

Give your kids a free MIT education, with this new STEM-focused site
From the AI & Creativity Workshop, an activity on style transfer [Image: Personal Robots Group/MIT Media Lab]

Not every child will grow up to attend MIT, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get a jump start on its curriculum. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced millions of students to learn from home, MIT Media Lab associate professor Cynthia Breazeal has released a website for K-12 students to learn about one of the most important topics in STEM: artificial intelligence.

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Badges created for a unit on AI & Data Privacy. [Image: Personal Robots Group/MIT Media Lab]
The site provides 60 activities, lesson plans, and links to interactive AI experiments that MIT and companies like Google have developed in the past. Projects include coding robots to doodle, developing an image classifier (a tool that can identify images), writing speculative fiction to tackle the murky ethics of AI, and developing a chatbot (your grade schooler cannot possibly be worse at that task than I was). Everything is free, but schools are supposed to license lesson plans from MIT before adopting them.

The site is, admittedly, a lot to take in, and you will have to dig a bit to find what you’re looking for. (Here’s some help to get you started: Lesson plans are here. The list of good interactive links is here.) The design feels more enterprise-focused than parent- or student-focused, with as much real estate given to the team and sponsors behind the project as to curriculum links. We’d love to see a more user-friendly design, which might let you start with a student’s grade, then shuttle you to the applicable lesson plans and experiments. But for now, there is still plenty of work awaiting your child. And by that I mean, please, do put them to work at solving the shortcomings of AI. Our future depends on it.

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About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach

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