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.
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.