maker playground

machine learning | middle school

Did you know computers can teach themselves new things? Explore how machine learning makes our technology more useful, and more like us, every day.

explore

These days, we use our devices to get information, answer questions, and help us find our way to grandma’s house. But did you know that some computers can teach themselves new things? Machine learning programs allow computers to make sense of patterns and build new knowledge.

If we want our computer to be able to tell apples from oranges, we can show the computer lots of pictures of apples and lots of pictures of oranges, and tell it which is which. The computer uses all those pictures to make rules about apples and oranges, without us telling it anything about what makes an apple an apple or an orange an orange. With its new rules about shape, color, and texture, the computer should be able to tell us whether a new picture is an apple or an orange. It may still make mistakes, but it will use those mistakes to improve its rules over time.

As cool as our apples versus oranges program is, machine learning can do so much more. From new Netflix content to keeping self-driving cars safe on the road or even making a robot that can play catch, machine learning is making our tech smarter and more like us.

What is machine learning?

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Machine learning makes computers smarter, but it can also be a lot of fun! Inspired by the way computers are programmed to teach themselves new things, design a game that uses machine learning.

Your game could include a computer program that learns, or one that has already been taught. Or you could create a game that doesn’t use a computer at all — maybe it teaches players about machine learning or has them play out the machine learning process. It’s up to you!

As you’re planning out your game design, think about these questions:

  • What kind of game will you make — a video game, a board game, a playground game, or something else?
  • Will your game use a machine learning program? Will it explain how machine learning works?
  • What will the theme of your game be? What technology, pieces, or equipment will your game need?

Need more inspiration? Check out Quick Draw, a doodling game you can play against the computer. Quick Draw uses machine learning and millions of doodles to guess what you’re drawing while you’re drawing it.

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Once you have your game idea, it’s time to make it! If you have decided to create a physical game, you can use any materials you have available to make your game’s board, pieces, or equipment. If you plan to use a machine learning program, try Teachable Machine, a website that makes it easy to train your computer to learn.

Check out these videos to help you get started with Teachable Machine.

Check out our Scratch Basics explainer for some tips on using Teachable Machine in a Scratch project.

When your game is complete, send it to us at socialmedia@kid-museum.org.

Video content coming soon