Experience AI: Making AI relevant and accessible

Google DeepMind’s Aimee Welch discusses our partnership on the Experience AI learning programme and why equal access to AI education is key. This article also appears in issue 22 of Hello World on teaching and AI.

From AI chatbots to self-driving cars, artificial intelligence (AI) is here and rapidly transforming our world. It holds the potential to solve some of the biggest challenges humanity faces today — but it also has many serious risks and inherent challenges, like reinforcing existing patterns of bias or “hallucinating”, a term that describes AI making up false outputs that do not reflect real events or data.

A teenager learning computer science.
Young people need the knowledge and skills to navigate and shape AI.

Teachers want to build young people’s AI literacy

As AI becomes an integral part of our daily lives, it’s essential that younger generations gain the knowledge and skills to navigate and shape this technology. Young people who have a foundational understanding of AI are able to make more informed decisions about using AI applications in their daily lives, helping ensure safe and responsible use of the technology. This has been recognised for example by the UK government’s AI Council, whose AI Roadmap sets out the goal of ensuring that every child in the UK leaves school with a basic sense of how AI works.

Learner in a computing classroom.
Every young person should have access to learning AI literacy.

But while AI literacy is a key skill in this new era, not every young person currently has access to sufficient AI education and resources. In a recent survey by the EdWeek Research Center in the USA, only one in 10 teachers said they knew enough about AI to teach its basics, and very few reported receiving any professional development related to the topic. Similarly, our work with the Raspberry Pi Computing Education Research Centre has suggested that UK-based teachers are eager to understand more about AI and how to engage their students in the topic.

Bringing AI education into classrooms

Ensuring broad access to AI education is also important to improve diversity in the field of AI to ensure safe and responsible development of the technology. There are currently stark disparities in the field and these start already early on, with school-level barriers contributing to underrepresentation of certain groups of people. By increasing diversity in AI, we bring diverse values, hopes, and concerns into the design and deployment of the technology — something that’s critical for AI to benefit everyone.

Kenyan children work on a physical computing project.
Bringing diverse values into AI is critical.

By focusing on AI education from a young age, there is an opportunity to break down some of these long-standing barriers. That’s why we partnered with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to co-create Experience AI, a new learning programme with free lesson plans, slide decks, worksheets and videos, to address gaps in AI education and support teachers in engaging and inspiring young people in the subject.

The programme aims to help young people aged 11–14 take their first steps in understanding the technology, making it relevant to diverse learners, and encouraging future careers in the field. All Experience AI resources are freely available to every school across the UK and beyond.

A woman teacher helps a young person with a coding project.
The Experience AI resources are free for every school.

The partnership is built on a shared vision to make AI education more inclusive and accessible. Bringing together the Foundation’s expertise in computing education and our cutting-edge technical knowledge and industry insights has allowed us to create a holistic learning experience that connects theoretical concepts and practical applications.

Experience AI: Informed by AI experts

A group of 15 research scientists and engineers at Google DeepMind contributed to the development of the lessons. From drafting definitions for key concepts, to brainstorming interesting research areas to highlight, and even featuring in the videos included in the lessons, the group played a key role in shaping the programme in close collaboration with the Foundation’s educators and education researchers.

Interview for Experience AI at Google DeepMind.
Interviews with AI scientists and engineers at Google DeepMind are part of Experience AI.

To bring AI concepts to life, the lessons include interactive activities as well as real-life examples, such as a project where Google DeepMind collaborated with ecologists and conservationists to develop machine learning methods to study the behaviour of an entire animal community in the Serengeti National Park and Grumeti Reserve in Tanzania.

Elephants in the Serengeti.
One of the Experience AI lessons focuses on an AI-enabled research project in the Serengeti.

Member of the working group, Google DeepMind Research Scientist Petar Veličković, shares: “AI is a technology that is going to impact us all, and therefore educating young people on how to interact with this technology is likely going to be a core part of school education going forward. The project was eye-opening and humbling for me, as I learned of the challenges associated with making such a complex topic accessible — not only to every pupil, but also to every teacher! Observing the thoughtful approach undertaken by the Raspberry Pi Foundation left me deeply impressed, and I’m taking home many useful ideas that I hope to incorporate in my own AI teaching efforts going forward.”

The lessons have been carefully developed to:

  • Follow a clear learning journey, underpinned by the SEAME framework which guides learners sequentially through key concepts and acts as a progression framework.
  • Build foundational knowledge and provide support for teachers. Focus on teacher training and support is at the core of the programme.
  • Embed ethics and responsibility. Crucially, key concepts in AI ethics and responsibility are woven into each lesson and progressively built on. Students are introduced to concepts like data bias, user-focused approaches, model cards, and how AI can be used for social good. 
  • Ensure cultural relevance and inclusion. Experience AI was designed with diverse learners in mind and includes a variety of activities to enable young people to pick topics that most interest them. 

What teachers say about the Experience AI lessons

To date, we estimate the resources have reached 200,000+ students in the UK and beyond. We’re thrilled to hear from teachers already using the resources about the impact they are having in the classroom, such as Mrs J Green from Waldegrave School in London, who says: “I thought that the lessons covered a really important topic. Giving the pupils an understanding of what AI is and how it works will become increasingly important as it becomes more ubiquitous in all areas of society. The lessons that we trialled took some of the ‘magic’ out of AI and started to give the students an understanding that AI is only as good as the data that is used to build it. It also started some really interesting discussions with the students around areas such as bias.”

An educator points to an image on a student's computer screen.
Experience AI offers support for teachers.

At North Liverpool Academy, teacher Dave Cross tells us: “AI is such a current and relevant topic in society that [these lessons] will enable Key Stage 3 computing students [ages 11–14] to gain a solid foundation in something that will become more prevalent within the curriculum, and wider subjects too as more sectors adopt AI and machine learning as standard. Our Key Stage 3 computing students now feel immensely more knowledgeable about the importance and place that AI has in their wider lives. These lessons and activities are engaging and accessible to students and educators alike, whatever their specialism may be.”

A stronger global AI community

Our hope is that the Experience AI programme instils confidence in both teachers and students, helping to address some of the critical school-level barriers leading to underrepresentation in AI and playing a role in building a stronger, more inclusive AI community where everyone can participate irrespective of their background. 

Children in a Code Club in India.

Today’s young people are tomorrow’s leaders — and as such, educating and inspiring them about AI is valuable for everybody.

Teachers can visit experience-ai.org to download all Experience AI resources for free.

We are now building a network of educational organisations around the world to tailor and translate the Experience AI resources so that more teachers and students can engage with them and learn key AI literacy skills. Find out more.

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Spotlight on teaching programming with and without AI in our 2024 seminar series

How do you best teach programming in school? It’s one of the core questions for primary and secondary computing teachers. That’s why we’re making it the focus of our free online seminars in 2024. You’re invited to attend and hear about the newest research about the teaching and learning of programming, with or without AI tools.

Two smiling adults learn about computing at desktop computers.

Building on the success and the friendly, accessible session format of our previous seminars, this coming year we will delve into the latest trends and innovative approaches to programming education in school.

Secondary school age learners in a computing classroom.

Our online seminars are for everyone interested in computing education

Our monthly online seminars are not only for computing educators but also for everyone else who is passionate about teaching young people to program computers. The seminar participants are a diverse community of teachers, technology enthusiasts, industry professionals, coding club volunteers, and researchers.

Two adults learn about computing at desktop computers.

With the seminars we aim to bridge the gap between the newest research and practical teaching. Whether you are an educator in a traditional classroom setting or a mentor guiding learners in a CoderDojo or Code Club, you will gain insights from leading researchers about how school-age learners engage with programming. 

What to expect from the seminars

Each online seminar begins with an expert presenter delivering their latest research findings in an accessible way. We then move into small groups to encourage discussion and idea exchange. Finally, we come back together for a Q&A session with the presenter.

Here’s what attendees had to say about our previous seminars:

“As a first-time attendee of your seminars, I was impressed by the welcoming atmosphere.”

“[…] several seminars (including this one) provided valuable insights into different approaches to teaching computing and technology.”

“I plan to use what I have learned in the creation of curriculum […] and will pass on what I learned to my team.”

“I enjoyed the fact that there were people from different countries and we had a chance to see what happens elsewhere and how that may be similar and different to what we do here.”

January seminar: AI-generated Parson’s Problems

Computing teachers know that, for some students, learning about the syntax of programming languages is very challenging. Working through Parson’s Problem activities can be a way for students to learn to make sense of the order of lines of code and how syntax is organised. But for teachers it can be hard to precisely diagnose their students’ misunderstandings, which in turn makes it hard to create activities that address these misunderstandings.

A group of students and a teacher at the Coding Academy in Telangana.

At our first 2024 seminar on 9 January, Dr Barbara Ericson and Xinying Hou (University of Michigan) will present a promising new approach to helping teachers solve this difficulty. In one of their studies, they combined Parsons Problems and generative AI to create targeted activities for students based on the errors students had made in previous tasks. Thus they were able to provide personalised activities that directly addressed gaps in the students’ learning.

Sign up now to join our seminars

All our seminars start at 17:00 UK time (18:00 CET / 12:00 noon ET / 9:00 PT) and are held online on Zoom. To ensure you don’t miss out, sign up now to receive calendar invitations, and access links for each seminar on the day.

If you sign up today, we’ll also invite you to our 12 December seminar with Anaclara Gerosa (University of Glasgow) about how to design and structure of computing activities for young learners, the final session in our 2023 series about primary (K-5) computing education.

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Coolest Projects is back in 2024

Big news for young tech creators: Coolest Projects will return in 2024. The world’s leading showcase for young creators of digital tech will be open for registration in the online gallery, and we want young people worldwide to showcase their tech projects.

In 2024, we are hosting the Coolest Projects online showcase and livestream celebration for all young creators around the world, and also in-person events in the UK and Ireland for young creators who live there.

A girl presenting a digital making project

Key dates for Coolest Projects 2024

All young tech creators can take part — for free — in the Coolest Projects online showcase:

  • Registration opens: 14 February 2024
  • Registration closes: 22 May 2024
  • Celebratory livestream with announcement of the judges’ favourite projects: 26 June 2024
A young person using Raspberry Pi hardware and learning resources to do digital making

How does Coolest Projects work?

Coolest Projects is an opportunity for young tech creators to share what they have made with the world. Young people register their tech creations to show them in the Coolest Projects online showcase gallery. Alongside mentors, parents, friends, and family members in their local and global communities, they can explore the gallery and celebrate what they and their peers have made.

Who can take part?

  • Coolest Projects is open to all tech creators up to age 18
  • Tech creators of all experience levels are encouraged to participate
  • Creators can take part individually or in teams of up to five
  • Creators can live in any place in the world
  • Participation is free
A boy participating in Coolest Projects shows off his tech project together with an adult.

What kinds of tech projects can be part of Coolest Projects?

  • All projects are welcome, whether they are beginner, advanced, or something in between
  • Projects can be registered in six categories: Scratch, games, web, mobile apps, hardware, and advanced programming
  • We love to see works in progress, so projects don’t need to be completed to be registered
  • Creators can choose a topic for their project, for example community, environment, health, fun, art, education, or identity
A group of young women present a robot buggy they have built.

What happens after registration?

  • The online gallery is open for young tech creators to explore to see what their peers all over the world have made
  • Judges evaluate projects based on their coolness, complexity, design, usability, and presentation, and give feedback to creators about their projects
  • Judges pick some of their favourite projects to highlight, and every participant gets a unique certificate and some fun digital swag
  • Participants and the whole global Coolest Projects community celebrates young tech creators’ ingenuity on our livestream on 26 June
Four young coders show off their tech project for Coolest Projects.

How can young people get started with their projects?

If your kids want to learn about creating with technology, check out our free guided coding project paths. These paths are designed to support all young people to learn how to make their own tech projects and develop their coding skills. For example:

  • For young people who are completely new to coding, our Introduction to Scratch path is a great place to start
  • If young people would like to create their own website, for example to share information about a cause they care about, they can follow our Intro to web path
  • The Introduction to Unity path is perfect for more experienced creators who are keen to build interactive 3D worlds

Young creators can take a look at the Coolest Projects 2023 online showcase gallery for inspiration if they are not sure what they want to make. You can also watch the story of Zaahra and Eesa, siblings who participated in Coolest Projects 2020.

Coolest Projects in-person events: Ireland and the UK

If you are a young creator in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, or the UK, then Coolest Projects is also coming to you in person in 2024. Participants will be able to meet other young tech creators, connect to their community, and celebrate each other’s creations. Young people are encouraged to take part in both the Coolest Projects global online showcase and their local in-person event.

Coolest Projects Ireland

  • Registration opens: 31 January 2024
  • Registration closes: 20 March 2024
  • Event day: 13 April 2024
The exhibition hall at Coolest Projects Ireland 2023.
Coolest Projects Ireland 2023

Coolest Projects Ireland will take place at DCU St Patrick’s College Campus, Drumcondra in Dublin. It’s open to young creators in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and their families and friends are invited to come along to celebrate them and see all the incredible projects on show. Participants can apply for partial bursaries for the costs of attending the event.

Coolest Projects UK

Very soon we will announce the date and venue for Coolest Projects UK for all young creators in the UK. Sign up for email updates to be the first to hear about it. We will also share full details of each in-person event on the Coolest Projects website when registration opens.

A young person creating a project at a laptop. An adult is sat next to them.

If you live in another country…

If there’s not an in-person Coolest Projects event near you, you can still join in the fun: the Coolest Projects online showcase is open to any young creator aged up to 18, from anywhere in the world. We also work with brilliant partner organisations around the world to bring Coolest Projects events to their countries and communities. Sign up to the Coolest Projects newsletter to be the first to know about any in-person event in your country.

What’s next?

Coolest Projects registration opens soon in 2024, and young creators can start thinking of ideas and working on their projects now. Or if young people have already made something they are really proud of, they can showcase that creation once registration is open.

Coolest Projects logo.

Sign up for email updates to always get the latest news about all things Coolest Projects, from event updates to the fun swag coming for 2024.

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Evolving our online courses to help more people be computing educators

Since launching our free online courses about computing on the edX platform back in August, we’ve been training course facilitators and analysing the needs of educators around the world. We want every course participant to have a great experience learning with us — read on to find out what we’re doing right now and into 2024 to ensure this.

Workshop attendees at a table.

Online courses for all adults who support young people

Educators of all kinds are key for supporting children and young people to engage with computing technology and develop digital skills. You might be a professional teacher, or a parent, volunteer, youth worker, librarian… there are so many roles in which people share knowledge with young learners.

Young people and an adult mentor at a computer at Coolest Projects Ireland 2023.

That’s why our online courses are designed to support any kind of educator to:

  • Understand the full breadth of topics within computing
  • Discover how to introduce computing to young people in clear and exciting ways that are grounded in the latest research

We are constantly improving our online courses based on your feedback, the latest education research, and the insights our team members gain through supporting you on your course learning journeys. Three principles guide these improvements: accessibility, scalability, and sustainability. 

Making our courses more relevant and accessible

Our online courses are used by people who live around the world and bring various knowledge and experiences. Some participants are classroom teachers, others have computing experience from their job and want to volunteer at a kids’ coding club, and some may be parents who want to support their children. It’s important to us that our courses are relevant and accessible to all kinds of adult learners. 

A parent and child work together at a Raspberry Pi computer.

We’re currently working to: 

  • Simplify the English in the courses for participants who speak it as a second language
  • Adapt the course activities for specific settings where participants help young people learn so that e.g. teachers see how the activities work in the classroom, and volunteers who run coding clubs see how they work in club sessions
  • Ensure our course facilitators have experience in a range of different settings including coding clubs, and in a variety of different contexts around the world

Making our courses useful for more groups of people

When we think about the scalability of our courses, we think about how to best support as many educators around the world as possible. If we can make the jobs of all educators easier, whatever their setting is like, then we are making the right choices.

An educator helps two young people at a computer.

We’re currently working to: 

  • Talk with the global network of educators we’re a part of to better understand what works for them so we can reflect that in the courses
  • Include a wider range of examples for settings beyond the classroom in the courses
  • Adapt our courses so they are relevant to participants with various needs while sustaining the high quality of the overall learning experience

Making the learning from our courses sustainable

The educators who take our courses work to achieve amazing things, and this means they are often busy. That they take the time to complete one of our courses to learn new things is a commitment we want to make sure is rewarded. The learning you get from participating in our online courses should continue to benefit you far beyond the time you spend completing it. This is what we mean by sustainability.

Kenyan educators work on a physical computing project.

We’re currently working to: 

  • Lay out clear learning pathways so you can build on the knowledge you gain in one course in the next course
  • Offer course resources that are easy to access after you’ve completed the course
  • Explore ways to build communities around our courses where you can share successes and learning outcomes with your fellow participants

Learn with us, and help us design better courses for you

Our work to improve the accessibility, scalability, and sustainability of our courses will continue into 2024, and these three principles will likely be part of our online training strategy for the following year too. 

If you’d like to support young people in your life to learn about computing and digital technologies, take one of our free courses now and learn something new. We have twenty courses available right now and they are totally free.

We are also looking for adult testers for new course content. So if you’re any kind of educator and would like to test upcoming online course content and share your feedback and experiences, please send us a message with the subject ‘Educator training’. 

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Support for new computing teachers: A tool to find Scratch programming errors

We all know that learning to program, and specifically learning how to debug or fix code, can be frustrating and leave beginners overwhelmed and disheartened. In a recent blog article, our PhD student Lauria at the Raspberry Pi Computing Education Research Centre highlighted the pivotal role that teachers play in shaping students’ attitudes towards debugging. But what about teachers who are coding novices themselves?

Two adults learn about computing at desktop computers.

In many countries, primary school teachers are holistic educators and often find themselves teaching computing despite having little or no experience in the field. In a recent seminar of our series on computing education for primary-aged children, Luisa Greifenstein told attendees that struggling with debugging and negative attitudes towards programming were among the top ten challenges mentioned by teachers.

Luisa Greifenstein.

Luisa is a researcher at the University of Passau, Germany, and has been working closely with both teacher trainees and experienced primary school teachers in Germany. She’s found that giving feedback to students can be difficult for primary school teachers, and especially for teacher trainees, as programming is still new to them. Luisa’s seminar introduced a tool to help.

A unique approach: Visualising debugging with LitterBox

To address this issue, the University of Passau has initiated the primary::programming project. One of its flagship tools, LitterBox, offers a unique solution to debugging and is specifically designed for Scratch, a beginners’ programming language widely used in primary schools.

A screenshot from the LitterBox tool.
You can upload Scratch program files to LitterBox to analyse them. Click to enlarge.

LitterBox serves as a static code debugging tool that transforms code examination into an engaging experience. With a nod to the Scratch cat, the tool visualises the debugging of Scratch code as checking the ‘litterbox’, categorising issues into ‘bugs’ and ‘smells’:

  • Bugs represent code patterns that have gone wrong, such as missing loops or specific blocks
  • Smells indicate that the code couldn’t be processed correctly because of duplications or unnecessary elements
A screenshot from the LitterBox tool.
The code patterns LitterBox recognises. Click to enlarge.

What sets LitterBox apart is that it also rewards correct code by displaying ‘perfumes’. For instance, it will praise correct broadcasting or the use of custom blocks. For every identified problem or achievement, the tool provides short and direct feedback.

A screenshot from the LitterBox tool.
LitterBox also identifies good programming practice. Click to enlarge.

Luisa and her team conducted a study to gauge the effectiveness of LitterBox. In the study, teachers were given fictitious student code with bugs and were asked to first debug the code themselves and then explain in a manner appropriate to a student how to do the debugging.

The results were promising: teachers using LitterBox outperformed a control group with no access to the tool. However, the team also found that not all hints proved equally helpful. When hints lacked direct relevance to the code at hand, teachers found them confusing, which highlighted the importance of refining the tool’s feedback mechanisms.

A bar chart showing that LitterBox helps computing teachers.

Despite its limitations, LitterBox proved helpful in another important aspect of the teachers’ work: coding task creation. Novice students require structured tasks and help sheets when learning to code, and teachers often invest substantial time in developing these resources. While LitterBox does not guide educators in generating new tasks or adapting them to their students’ needs, in a second study conducted by Luisa’s team, teachers who had access to LitterBox not only received support in debugging their own code but also provided more scaffolding in task instructions they created for their students compared to teachers without LitterBox.

How to maximise the impact of new tools: use existing frameworks and materials

One important realisation that we had in the Q&A phase of Luisa’s seminar was that many different research teams are working on solutions for similar challenges, and that the impact of this research can be maximised by integrating new findings and resources. For instance, what the LitterBox tool cannot offer could be filled by:

  • Pedagogical frameworks to enhance teachers’ lessons and feedback structures. Frameworks such as PRIMM (Predict, Run, Investigate, Modify, and Make) or TIPP&SEE for Scratch projects (Title, Instructions, Purpose, Play & Sprites, Events, Explore) can serve as valuable resources. These frameworks provide a structured approach to lesson design and teaching methodologies, making it easier for teachers to create engaging and effective programming tasks. Additionally, by adopting semantic waves in the feedback for teachers and students, a deeper understanding of programming concepts can be fostered. 
  • Existing courses and materials to aid task creation and adaptation. Our expert educators at the Raspberry Pi Foundation have not only created free lesson plans and courses for teachers and educators, but also dedicated non-formal learning paths for Scratch, Python, Unity, web design, and physical computing that can serve as a starting point for classroom tasks.

Exploring innovative ideas in computing education

As we navigate the evolving landscape of programming education, it’s clear that innovative tools like LitterBox can make a significant difference in the journey of both educators and students. By equipping educators with effective debugging and task creation solutions, we can create a more positive and engaging learning experience for students.

If you’re an educator, consider exploring how such tools can enhance your teaching and empower your students in their coding endeavours.

You can watch the recording of Luisa’s seminar here:

Celebrating the community: St Joseph’s Secondary School

In our series of community stories, we celebrate some of the amazing young people and educators who are using their passion for technology to create positive change in the world around them. 

A group of students at secondary schools.

In our latest story, we’re sharing the inspiring journey of St Joseph’s Secondary School in Rush, Ireland. Over the past few years, the school community has come together to encourage coding and digital skills, harnessing the European Astro Pi Challenge as an opportunity to kindle students’ enthusiasm for tech and teamwork. 

We caught up with some of the educators and students at St Joseph’s, fresh off the success of their participation in another round of Astro Pi, to delve a little deeper into the school’s focus on making opportunities to engage with computing technologies accessible to all.

Introducing St Joseph’s Secondary School

AI literacy for teachers and students all over the world

I am delighted to announce that the Raspberry Pi Foundation and Google DeepMind are building a global network of educational organisations to bring AI literacy to teachers and students all over the world, starting with Canada, Kenya, and Romania.

Learners in a classroom in Kenya.
Learners around the world will gain AI literacy skills through Experience AI.

Experience AI 

We launched Experience AI in September 2022 to help teachers and students learn about AI technologies and how they are changing the world. 

Developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation and Google DeepMind, Experience AI provides everything that teachers need to confidently deliver engaging lessons that will inspire and educate young people about AI and the role that it could play in their lives.

A group of young people investigate computer hardware together.
Experience AI is designed to inspire learners about AI through real-world contexts.

We provide lesson plans, classroom resources, worksheets, hands-on activities, and videos that introduce a wide range of AI applications and the underlying technologies that make them work. The materials are designed to be relatable to young people and can be taught by any teacher, whether or not they have a technical background. Alongside the classroom resources, we provide teacher professional development, including an online course that provides an introduction to machine learning and AI. 

Part of Experience AI are video interviews with AI developers at Google DeepMind.

The materials are grounded in real-world contexts and emphasise the potential for young people to positively change the world through a mastery of AI technologies. 

Since launching the first resources, we have seen significant demand from teachers and students all over the world, with over 200,000 students already learning with Experience AI. 

Experience AI network

Building on that initial success and in response to huge demand, we are now building a global network of educational organisations to expand the reach and impact of Experience AI by translating and localising the materials, promoting them to schools, and supporting teacher professional development.

Obum Ekeke OBE, Head of Education Partnerships at Google DeepMind, says:

“We have been blown away by the interest we have seen in Experience AI since its launch and are thrilled to be working with the Raspberry Pi Foundation and local partners to expand the reach of the programme. AI literacy is a critical skill in today’s world, but not every young person currently has access to relevant education and resources. By making AI education more inclusive, we can help young people make more informed decisions about using AI applications in their daily lives, and encourage safe and responsible use of the technology.”

Learner in a computing classroom.
Experience AI helps learners understand how they might use AI to positively change the world.

Today we are announcing the first three organisations that we are working with, each of which is already doing fantastic work to democratise digital skills in their part of the world. All three are already working in partnership with the Raspberry Pi Foundation and we are excited to be deepening and expanding our collaboration to include AI literacy.

Digital Moment, Canada

Digital Moment is a Montreal-based nonprofit focused on empowering young changemakers through digital skills. Founded in 2013, Digital Moment has a track record of supporting teachers and students across Canada to learn about computing, coding, and AI literacy, including through supporting one of the world’s largest networks of Code Clubs

Digital Moment logo.

“We’re excited to be working with the Raspberry Pi Foundation and Google DeepMind to bring Experience AI to teachers across Canada. Since 2018, Digital Moment has been introducing rich training experiences and educational resources to make sure that Canadian teachers have the support to navigate the impacts of AI in education for their students. Through this partnership, we will be able to reach more teachers and with more resources, to keep up with the incredible pace and disruption of AI.”

Indra Kubicek, President, Digital Moment

Tech Kidz Africa, Kenya

Tech Kidz Africa is a Mobasa-based social enterprise that nurtures creativity in young people across Kenya through digital skills including coding, robotics, app and web development, and creative design thinking.

Tech Kidz Africa logo.

“With the retooling of teachers as a key objective of Tech Kidz Africa, working with Google DeepMind and the Raspberry Pi Foundation will enable us to build the capacity of educators to empower the 21st century learner, enhancing the teaching and learning experience to encourage innovation and  prepare the next generation for the future of work.”

Grace Irungu, CEO, Tech Kidz Africa

Asociația Techsoup, Romania

Asociația Techsoup works with teachers and students across Romania and Moldova, training Computer Science, ICT, and primary school teachers to build their competencies around coding and technology. A longstanding partner of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, they foster a vibrant community of CoderDojos and support young people to participate in Coolest Projects and the European Astro Pi Challenge

Asociata Techsoup logo.

“We are enthusiastic about participating in this global partnership to bring high-quality AI education to all students, regardless of their background. Given the current exponential growth of AI tools and instruments in our daily lives, it is crucial to ensure that students and teachers everywhere comprehend and effectively utilise these tools to enhance their human, civic, and professional potential. Experience AI is the best available method for AI education for middle school students. We couldn’t be more thrilled to work with the Raspberry Pi Foundation and Google DeepMind to make it accessible in Romanian for teachers in Romania and the Republic of Moldova, and to assist teachers in fully integrating it into their classes.”

Elena Coman, Director of Development, Asociația Techsoup

Get involved

These are the first of what will become a global network of organisations supporting tens of thousands of teachers to equip millions of students with a foundational understanding of AI technologies through Experience AI. If you want to get involved in inspiring the next generation of AI leaders, we would love to hear from you.

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Code Editor update: Support for HTML and mobile devices 

Earlier this year, we launched our Code Editor, a free online tool to help make learning text-based programming simple and accessible for kids age 9 and up. We focus on supporting the needs of young people who are learning programming at school, in Code Clubs and CoderDojos, and at home.

A young coder using the Code Editor.

Today, we have two exciting updates to share: support for web page projects with HTML/CSS, and an improved mobile and tablet experience.

What’s the Code Editor?

Learners can use the Code Editor to write and run code in a web browser without installing any additional software. The Editor is currently available as a beta version, and we’ve already received really positive comments: 

“The Editor looks really nice! I have tried the Python part, and it is intuitive and concise. My little program worked no problem, and I am sure the Editor will be easy, intuitive, and quick to learn for the young [learners].”

— Volunteer in the CoderDojo community

Introducing HTML and CCS in the Code Editor 

The Code Editor now supports the HTML and CSS web development languages, giving young people the ability to create and preview their own websites directly in the Editor interface. Learners can have their code and the preview panel side by side, and they can also preview their websites in a separate, larger tab.

A web project in the Code Editor.

We have embedded the Editor in our ‘Introduction to web‘ path on the Projects site. The path contains six HTML and CSS projects for beginners and helps them create fun websites like the ones shown here.

We want the Code Editor to be safe, age-appropriate, and suitable for use in classrooms or coding clubs. With this in mind, we have excluded certain functions, like being able to add links to external websites in the code. Rather than enabling image uploads, we provide a library of images when projects in our free learning paths contain images, in order to support multimedia projects safely.

A web project in the Code Editor.

Whether users are coding in Python or HTML/CSS, the Editor offers accessibility options so you can easily switch settings between light and dark mode, and between small, medium, and large text size. The text size feature is useful for people with visual impairments, as well as for educators who want to demonstrate something to a group of learners.

Improved experience for mobile and tablet devices

Our Code Editor now offers a new and improved experience for users of mobile and tablet devices. This improves access for learners in classrooms where tablets are used, and in low- and middle-income countries, where mobile phones are commonly used for digital learning.

A web project in the Code Editor.

The Editor now includes: 

  • A clearer and simpler navigation for small-screen devices
  • Separate Menu, Code and Output/Preview tabs
  • The same features on mobile/tablet devices as on desktop of laptop computers, such as responsive panels and the option to open HTML/CSS projects in a new tab

Try the Code Editor today

We’re continuing to develop the Code Editor and have more improvements planned. If you would like to try it out and provide us with your feedback, we’d love to hear what you think of our latest updates. 

Code Editor developments have been made possible with generous support from Endless and the Cisco Foundation.

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New micro:bit coding projects for kids

Young people can now learn to code and create with our brand-new path of micro:bit coding projects. The ‘Intro to micro:bit’ path is free and kids can follow it to code projects that focus on wellbeing, including topics like mental health, relaxation, and exercise.

As you might know, a micro:bit (pronounced “microbit”) is a small, programmable device designed for education. You can program it using any computer. It’s easy to use and learn with, and suitable for beginners, especially young people in and out of school.

The theme of the new project path: Wellbeing

Our aim for this new micro:bit project path is to help young people explore how they can create their own tech tools that help them look after themselves and others. By designing the micro:bit coding projects around wellbeing, we want to not only help kids develop programming and digital literacy skills, but also promote open conversations about the important topic of mental health.

Kids coding a microbit project.
Credit: David Bird

The six micro:bit coding projects in our new path all cover different aspects of wellbeing in a fun, creative way:

  1. Good sleep patterns
  2. Relaxation
  3. Self-confidence
  4. Happiness
  5. Health 
  6. Entertainment

We hope that following the path and making projects helps encourage learners to ask questions, share their experiences, and feel like they can ask parents, teachers, or mentors for support, and help support their friends and peers.

What is in the ‘Intro to micro:bit’ project path?

The ‘Intro to micro:bit’ path is designed according to our Digital Making Framework. Its aim is to encourage young people to become independent coders and tech creators as they progress along the projects in a path by gently removing scaffolding.

  • Our project paths begin with three Explore projects, in which learners are guided through tasks that introduce them to new coding skills.
  • Next, learners complete two Design projects. Here, they are encouraged to practise their skills and bring in their own interests to personalise their coding creations.
  • Finally, learners complete one Invent project. This is where they put everything that they have learned together and create something unique that matters to them.

The structure of the path means that learners are led through the development process of a coding project and learn how to turn their ideas into reality. The path structure also supports them with fixing programming errors (debugging), showing them that errors are a normal part of computer programming and just temporary setbacks that they can overcome.

Credit: David Bird

Because community is important for learning, the path also offers young people the chance to share the projects they make with peers around the world.

What coding skills and knowledge will young people learn?

The Explore projects at the start of the path are where the initial learning takes place. Learners then develop their new skills and knowledge by putting them into practice in the Design and Invent projects, where they add in their own ideas and creativity.

The key programming concepts covered in this path are:

  • Variables
  • Using selection (if, else if, and else)
  • Using repetition (for loops)
  • Using randomisation
  • Using functions
Kids coding a microbit project.
Credit: David Bird

There are two versions of the micro:bit (V1 and V2) and learners can use either version to create the micro:bit coding projects in the path, using the micro:bit’s input and output features:

Input features:

  • Buttons
  • Accelerometer
  • Sound sensor/microphone (micro:bit V2 only)
  • Capacitive touch sensor
  • Light sensor

Output features:

  • LED display
  • Speaker
  • Headphones connected via GPIO (micro:bit V1 only)

Explore project 1: Music player

In this Explore project, kids create a music player on the micro:bit to explore how listening to music can improve their mood. While creating their music player, young people get to choose melodies that they enjoy or that make them feel more relaxed. They also add a range of functions such as pausing, skipping, and shuffling tracks.

Explore project 2: Sound level meter

Noise levels can affect people’s well-being, so in this project, kids create a program to use the micro:bit to display how noisy their environment is. They will also learn how to save the noise data the micro:bit measures so they can identify the noisiest times in their day.

Explore project 3: Sleep tracker

Sleep is an important factor that contributes towards well-being. With this third Explore project, kids create a program to track their sleep movements using the micro:bit. This teaches them about variables and about using the micro:bit’s accelerometer, and its LEDs to display data.

Design project 1: How’s your day?

The first Design project of the path gets young people to build a mood checker program using the question ‘How’s your day?’. Kids get creative design control over the mood checker’s outputs according to the user’s replies, including displaying an animation or positive messages, or playing music. Kids can also make use of sensors to measure the various factors in the environment that could be affecting the user’s mood.

In this project, young people apply all of the coding skills and knowledge covered in the Explore projects, including selection, repetition, variables, functions, and randomisation.

Design project 2: Active assistant

In the second Design project, young people create an assistant that helps them get active.The project provides examples, a structure, and brief summaries of what kids have learned to do on the path so far to inspire and motivate them. This mean young people can work independently to produce their own outcomes and the functionality of their assistant is up to each young tech creator.

Invent project: Party game

The final project, Party game, encourages learners to independently replicate their favourite party game for entertainment and relaxation. Learners will combine all of the knowledge and skills they’ve gained throughout the path to make something of their own around the theme of well-being. This is a chance for them to unleash their creativity and reflect on real-life games they enjoy. The outcome will be unique, and fun for them to share with their friends and family.

Key questions answered

Who is this path for?

We have written these micro:bit coding projects with young people around the age of 6 to 13 in mind. Building the projects on the path does not require any previous coding experience, although complete beginners may want to try our free ‘Intro to Scratch’ path first.

What software do learners need to code these projects?

A web browser on a computer. In every project, starter code is provided in the MakeCode online code editor. Learners can either download their project code to a physical micro:bit (recommended) or use the micro:bit simulator in MakeCode.

Kids coding a microbit project.
Credit: David Bird

Young people who live where there isn’t constant internet connectivity can also download the offline version of the MakeCode editor. There are also free micro:bit coding apps for smartphones and tablets.

How long will the path take to complete?

We’ve designed the ‘Intro to micro:bit’ path to be completed in six one-hour sessions, with one hour per project. However, the project instructions invite learners to take additional time to upgrade their projects if they wish.

What can learners do next?

Take part in Coolest Projects

At the end of the micro:bit path, learners are encouraged to register a project they’re making with their new coding skills for Coolest Projects, our annual online technology showcase for young people around the world.

Taking part is free, and beginners as well as more experienced young tech creators are invited. This is their opportunity to share their ingenuity in an online gallery for the world and the Coolest Projects community to celebrate.

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Explore space science and coding with Astro Pi Mission Space Lab

Today we’re calling all young people who are excited to explore coding and space science, and the mentors who want to support and inspire them on their journey. Astro Pi Mission Space Lab is officially open again, offering young people all over Europe the amazing chance to have their code for a science experiment run in space on the International Space Station (ISS).

Aurora Borealis as seen from the ISS.
Aurora Borealis as seen from the ISS

With this year’s Mission Space Lab, astronauts from the European Space Agency are setting young people a task: to write a computer program that runs on the ISS and calculates the speed at which the ISS is orbiting planet Earth. Participation in Mission Space Lab is completely free.

Here’s ESA astronaut candidate Rosemary Coogan to introduce this year’s mission:

The Experience AI Challenge: Make your own AI project

We are pleased to announce a new AI-themed challenge for young people: the Experience AI Challenge invites and supports young people aged up to 18 to design and make their own AI applications. This is their chance to have a taste of getting creative with the powerful technology of machine learning. And equally exciting: every young creator will get feedback and encouragement from us at the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

As you may have heard, we recently launched a series of classroom lessons called Experience AI in partnership with Google DeepMind. The lesson materials make it easy for teachers of all subjects to teach their learners aged up to 18 about artificial intelligence and machine learning. Now the Experience AI Challenge gives young people the opportunity to develop their skills further and build their own AI applications.

Key information

  • Starts on 08 January 2024
  • Free to take part in
  • Designed for beginners, based on the tools Scratch and Machine Learning for Kids
  • Open for official submissions made by UK-based young people aged up to 18 and their mentors 
  • Young people and their mentors around the world are welcome to access the Challenge resources and make AI projects
  • Tailored resources for young people and mentors to support you to take part
  • Register your interest and we’ll send you a reminder email on the launch day

The Experience AI Challenge

For the Experience AI Challenge, you and the young people you work with will learn how to make a machine learning (ML) classifier that organises data types such as audio, text, or images into different groupings that you specify.

A girl points excitedly at a project on the Raspberry Pi Foundation's projects site.

The Challenge resources show young people the basic principles of using the tools and training ML models. Then they will use these new skills to create their own projects, and it’s a chance for their imaginations to run free. Here are some examples of projects your young tech creators could make:

  • An instrument classifier to identify the type of musical instrument being played in pieces of music
  • An animal sound identifier to determine which animal is making a particular sound
  • A voice command recogniser to detect voice commands like ‘stop’, ‘go’, ‘left’, and ‘right’
  • A photo classifier to identify what kind of food is shown in a photograph

All creators will receive expert feedback on their projects.

To make the Experience AI Challenge as familiar and accessible as possible for young people who may be new to coding, we designed it for beginners. We chose the free, easy-to-use, online tool Machine Learning for Kids for young people to train their machine learning models, and Scratch as the programming environment for creators to code their projects. If you haven’t used these tools before, don’t worry. The Challenge resources will provide all the support you need to get up to speed.

Training an ML model and creating a project with it teaches many skills beyond coding, including computational thinking, ethical programming, data literacy, and developing a broader understanding of the influence of AI on society.

The three Challenge stages

Our resources for creators and mentors walk you through the three stages of the Experience AI Challenge.

Stage 1: Explore and discover

The first stage of the Challenge is designed to ignite young people’s curiosity. Through our resources, mentors let participants explore the world of AI and ML and discover how these technologies are revolutionising industries like healthcare and entertainment.

Stage 2: Get hands-on

In the second stage, young people choose a data type and embark on a guided example project. They create a training dataset, train an ML model, and develop a Scratch application as the user interface for their model. 

Stage 3: Design and create

In the final stage, mentors support young people to apply what they’ve learned to create their own ML project that addresses a problem they’re passionate about. They submit their projects to us online and receive feedback from our expert panel.

Things to do today

  1. Visit our new Experience AI Challenge homepage to find out more details
  2. Register your interest so you receive a reminder email on launch day, 8 January
  3. Get your young people excited and thinking about what kind of AI project they might like to create

We can’t wait to see how you and your young creators choose to engage with the Experience AI Challenge!

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Coding futures: Celebrating our educational partnership in Telangana

On September 29 2023, amidst much excitement and enthusiasm, a significant event took place at a unique school in Moinabad, Telangana: the teams of the Raspberry Pi Foundation and Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society (TSWREIS) gathered to celebrate our partnership on the esteemed Coding Academy of TSWREIS.

Welcome, new partners: Growing the global impact of Code Club and CoderDojo

Increasing access to computing education is a global challenge, and at the Raspberry Pi Foundation we take a global approach in addressing it. One way we do this is to partner with organisations around the world and support them to introduce Code Clubs and CoderDojos in their local or national communities.

Students in a Code Club run by CSEd Botswana.

Code Club and CoderDojo are the two global networks of free, volunteer-led coding clubs for young people that we support. They are a great fit for a lot of organisations that share our vision and values and work with young people from backgrounds that are currently under-represented in computing. Right now, our Global Clubs Partner network involves more than 50 organisations in over 40 different countries around the world. Seven new partners have joined us since August.

New members in the Global Clubs Partner network

We send a warm welcome to our seven new partners. Here is some of what they are working on:

  • CSEd Botswana is training 25 teachers in rural areas to run Code Clubs in their schools
  • Hacedores in Mexico is working towards establishing CoderDojos in their 80 makerspaces, and Code Clubs in the local schools of their community members.
  • Code Club Luxembourg is already running several clubs and also hosts a number of workshops each year to encourage children to carry on their coding journey by joining a Code Club or CoderDojo.
  • Light Into Europe works with the Deaf community in Romania. They plan to open up coding to children with hearing impairments through accessible Code Clubs, supported by interpreters and adults who are also deaf.
  • KIT Hub in Burundi have plans to establish CoderDojos to support children from underserved areas, including a sizable community of Congolese young people living in refugee camps in Burundi.
  • Orientations Training Centre in Sudan will be setting up clubs in Khartoum and Darfur, and they are planning a special passion for supporting young people to submit entries to the Coolest Projects online showcase in 2024.
  • Savanna Developer Network will establish CoderDojos in northern Ghana to narrow the income and infrastructure gap between the north and the south by ensuring that children in the north aren’t left behind in computing education. 

We are really excited that these organisations have chosen to join the Global Clubs Partner network.

Benefits of partnering with us

When they join our Global Clubs Partner network, organisations work with us to grow the Code Club and CoderDojo communities around the world. Our Global Clubs Partners share our mission to enable young people to realise their full potential through the power of computing and digital technologies, and they commit to working towards this mission with our support.

Hello World #22 out now: Teaching and AI

Recent developments in artificial intelligence are changing how the world sees computing and challenging computing educators to rethink their approach to teaching. In the brand-new issue of Hello World, out today for free, we tackle some big questions about AI and computing education. We also get practical with resources for your classroom.

Cover of Hello World issue 22.

Teaching and AI

In their articles for issue 22, educators explore a range of topics related to teaching and AI, including what is AI literacy and how do we teach it; gender bias in AI and what we can do about it; how to speak to young children about AI; and why anthropomorphism hinders learners’ understanding of AI.

Our feature articles also include a research digest on AI ethics for children, and of course hands-on examples of AI lessons for your learners.

A snapshot of AI education

Hello World issue 22 is a comprehensive snapshot of the current landscape of AI education. Ben Garside, Learning Manager for our Experience AI programme and guest editor of this issue, says:

“When I was teaching in the classroom, I used to enjoy getting to grips with new technological advances and finding ways in which I could bring them into school and excite the students I taught. Occasionally, during the busiest of times, I’d also look longingly at other subjects and be jealous that their curriculum appeared to be more static than ours (probably a huge misconception on my behalf).”

It’s inspiring for me to see how the education community is reacting to the opportunities that AI can provide.

Ben Garside

“It’s inspiring for me to see how the education community is reacting to the opportunities that AI can provide. Of course, there are elements of AI where we need to tread carefully and be very cautious in our approach, but what you’ll see in this magazine is educators who are thinking creatively in this space.”

Download Hello World issue 22 for free

AI is a topic we’ve addressed before in Hello World, and we’ll keep covering this rapidly evolving area in future. We hope this issue gives you plenty of ideas to take away and build upon.

Also in issue 22:

  • Vocational training for young people
  • Making the most of online educator training
  • News about BBC micro:bit
  • An insight into the WiPSCE 2023 conference for teachers and educators
  • And much, much more

You can download your free PDF issue now, or purchase a print copy from our store. UK-based subscribers for a free print edition can expect their copies to arrive in the mail this week.

Send us a message or tag us on social media to let us know which articles have made you think and, most importantly, which will help you with your teaching.

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What does AI mean for computing education?

It’s been less than a year since ChatGPT catapulted generative artificial intelligence (AI) into mainstream public consciousness, reigniting the debate about the role that these powerful new technologies will play in all of our futures.

A person in front of a cloudy sky, seen through a refractive glass grid. Parts of the image are overlaid with a diagram of a neural network.
Image: Alan Warburton / © BBC / Better Images of AI / Quantified Human / CC-BY 4.0

‘Will AI save or destroy humanity?’ might seem like an extreme title for a podcast, particularly if you’ve played with these products and enjoyed some of their obvious limitations. The reality is that we are still at the foothills of what AI technology can achieve (think World Wide Web in the 1990s), and lots of credible people are predicting an astonishing pace of progress over the next few years, promising the radical transformation of almost every aspect of our lives. Comparisons with the Industrial Revolution abound.

At the same time, there are those saying it’s all moving too fast; that regulation isn’t keeping pace with innovation. One of the UK’s leading AI entrepreneurs, Mustafa Suleyman, said recently: “If you don’t start from a position of fear, you probably aren’t paying attention.”

In a computing classroom, a girl looks at a computer screen.
What is AI literacy for young people?

What does all this mean for education, and particularly for computing education? Is there any point trying to teach children about AI when it is all changing so fast? Does anyone need to learn to code anymore? Will teachers be replaced by chatbots? Is assessment as we know it broken?

If we’re going to seriously engage with these questions, we need to understand that we’re talking about three different things:

  1. AI literacy: What it is and how we teach it
  2. Rethinking computer science (and possibly some other subjects)
  3. Enhancing teaching and learning through AI-powered technologies

AI literacy: What it is and how we teach it

For young people to thrive in a world that is being transformed by AI systems, they need to understand these technologies and the role they could play in their lives.

In a computing classroom, a smiling girl raises her hand.
Our SEAME model articulates the concepts, knowledge, and skills that are essential ingredients of any AI literacy curriculum.

The first problem is defining what AI literacy actually means. What are the concepts, knowledge, and skills that it would be useful for a young person to learn?

The reality is that — with a few notable exceptions — the vast majority of AI literacy resources available today are probably doing more harm than good.

In the past couple of years there has been a huge explosion in resources that claim to help young people develop AI literacy. Our research team mapped and categorised over 500 resources, and undertaken a systematic literature review to understand what research has been done on K–12 AI classroom interventions (spoiler: not much). 

The reality is that — with a few notable exceptions — the vast majority of AI literacy resources available today are probably doing more harm than good. For example, in an attempt to be accessible and fun, many materials anthropomorphise AI systems, using human terms to describe them and their functions and thereby perpetuating misconceptions about what AI systems are and how they work.

A real banana and an image of a banana shown on the screen of a laptop are both labelled "Banana".
Image: Max Gruber / Better Images of AI / Ceci n’est pas une banane / CC-BY 4.0

What emerged from this work at the Raspberry Pi Foundation is the SEAME model, which articulates the concepts, knowledge, and skills that are essential ingredients of any AI literacy curriculum. It separates out the social and ethical, application, model, and engine levels of AI systems — all of which are important — and gets specific about age-appropriate learning outcomes for each. 

This research has formed the basis of Experience AI (experience-ai.org), a suite of resources, lessons plans, videos, and interactive learning experiences created by the Raspberry Pi Foundation in partnership with Google DeepMind, which is already being used in thousands of classrooms.

If we’re serious about AI literacy for young people, we have to get serious about AI literacy for teachers.

Defining AI literacy and developing resources is part of the challenge, but that doesn’t solve the problem of how we get them into the hands and minds of every young person. This will require policy change. We need governments and education system leaders to grasp that a foundational understanding of AI technologies is essential for creating economic opportunity, ensuring that young people have the mindsets to engage positively with technological change, and avoiding a widening of the digital divide. We’ve messed this up before with digital skills. Let’s not do it again.

Two smiling adults learn about computing at desktop computers.
Teacher professional development is key to AI literacy for young people.

More than anything, we need to invest in teachers and their professional development. While there are some fantastic computing teachers with computer science qualifications, the reality is that most of the computing lessons taught anywhere on the planet are taught by a non-specialist teacher. That is even more so the case for anything related to AI. If we’re serious about AI literacy for young people, we have to get serious about AI literacy for teachers. 

Rethinking computer science 

Alongside introducing AI literacy, we also need to take a hard look at computer science. At the very least, we need to make sure that computer science curricula include machine learning models, explaining how they constitute a new paradigm for computing, and give more emphasis to the role that data will play in the future of computing. Adding anything new to an already packed computer science curriculum means tough choices about what to deprioritise to make space.

Elephants in the Serengeti.
One of our Experience AI Lessons revolves around the us of AI technology to study the Serengeti ecosystem.

And, while we’re reviewing curricula, what about biology, geography, or any of the other subjects that are just as likely to be revolutionised by big data and AI? As part of Experience AI, we are launching some of the first lessons focusing on ecosystems and AI, which we think should be at the heart of any modern biology curriculum. 

Some are saying young people don’t need to learn how to code. It’s an easy political soundbite, but it just doesn’t stand up to serious scrutiny.

There is already a lively debate about the extent to which the new generation of AI technologies will make programming as we know it obsolete. In January, the prestigious ACM journal ran an opinion piece from Matt Welsh, founder of an AI-powered programming start-up, in which he said: “I believe the conventional idea of ‘writing a program’ is headed for extinction, and indeed, for all but very specialised applications, most software, as we know it, will be replaced by AI systems that are trained rather than programmed.”

Computer science students at a desktop computer in a classroom.
Writing computer programs is an essential part of learning how to analyse problems in computational terms.

With GitHub (now part of Microsoft) claiming that their pair programming technology, Copilot, is now writing 46 percent of developers’ code, it’s perhaps not surprising that some are saying young people don’t need to learn how to code. It’s an easy political soundbite, but it just doesn’t stand up to serious scrutiny. 

Even if AI systems can improve to the point where they generate consistently reliable code, it seems to me that it is just as likely that this will increase the demand for more complex software, leading to greater demand for more programmers. There is historical precedent for this: the invention of abstract programming languages such as Python dramatically simplified the act of humans providing instructions to computers, leading to more complex software and a much greater demand for developers. 

A child codes a Spiderman project at a laptop during a Code Club session.
Learning to program will help young people understand how the world around them is being transformed by AI systems.

However these AI-powered tools develop, it will still be essential for young people to learn the fundamentals of programming and to get hands-on experience of writing code as part of any credible computer science course. Practical experience of writing computer programs is an essential part of learning how to analyse problems in computational terms; it brings the subject to life; it will help young people understand how the world around them is being transformed by AI systems; and it will ensure that they are able to shape that future, rather than it being something that is done to them.

Enhancing teaching and learning through AI-powered technologies

Technology has already transformed learning. YouTube is probably the most important educational innovation of the past 20 years, democratising both the creation and consumption of learning resources. Khan Academy, meanwhile, integrated video instruction into a learning experience that gamified formative assessment. Our own edtech platform, Ada Computer Science, combines comprehensive instructional materials, a huge bank of questions designed to help learning, and automated marking and feedback to make computer science easier to teach and learn. Brilliant though these are, none of them have even begun to harness the potential of AI systems like large language models (LLMs).

The challenge for all of us working in education is how we ensure that ethics and privacy are at the centre of the development of [AI-powered edtech].

One area where I think we’ll see huge progress is feedback. It’s well-established that good-quality feedback makes a huge difference to learning, but a teacher’s ability to provide feedback is limited by their time. No one is seriously claiming that chatbots will replace teachers, but — if we can get the quality right — LLM applications could provide every child with unlimited, on-demand feedback. AI-powered feedback — not giving students the answers, but coaching, suggesting, and encouraging in the way that great teachers already do — could be transformational.

Two adults learn about computing at desktop computers.
The challenge for all of us working in education is how we ensure that ethics and privacy are at the centre of the development of AI-powered edtech.

We are already seeing edtech companies racing to bring new products and features to market that leverage LLMs, and my prediction is that the pace of that innovation is going to increase exponentially over the coming years. The challenge for all of us working in education is how we ensure that ethics and privacy are at the centre of the development of these technologies. That’s important for all applications of AI, but especially so in education, where these systems will be unleashed directly on young people. How much data from students will an AI system need to access? Can that data — aggregated from millions of students — be used to train new models? How can we communicate transparently the limitations of the information provided back to students?

Ultimately, we need to think about how parents, teachers, and education systems (the purchasers of edtech products) will be able to make informed choices about what to put in front of students. Standards will have an important role to play here, and I think we should be exploring ideas such as an AI kitemark for edtech products that communicate whether they meet a set of standards around bias, transparency, and privacy. 

Realising potential in a brave new world

We may very well be entering an era in which AI systems dramatically enhance the creativity and productivity of humanity as a species. Whether the reality lives up to the hype or not, AI systems are undoubtedly going to be a big part of all of our futures, and we urgently need to figure out what that means for education, and what skills, knowledge, and mindsets young people need to develop in order to realise their full potential in that brave new world. 

That’s the work we’re engaged in at the Raspberry Pi Foundation, working in partnership with individuals and organisations from across industry, government, education, and civil society.

If you have ideas and want to get involved in shaping the future of computing education, we’d love to hear from you.

Young children’s ScratchJr coding projects: Assessment and support

Block-based programming applications like Scratch and ScratchJr provide millions of children with an introduction to programming; they are a fun and accessible way for beginners to explore programming concepts and start making with code. ScratchJr, in particular, is designed specifically for children between the ages of 5 and 7, enabling them to create their own interactive stories and games. So it’s no surprise that they are popular tools for primary-level (K–5) computing teachers and learners. But how can teachers assess coding projects built in ScratchJr, where the possibilities are many and children are invited to follow their imagination?

Aim Unahalekhala

In the latest seminar of our series on computing education for primary-aged children, attendees heard about two research studies that explore the use of ScratchJr in K–2 education. The speaker, Apittha (Aim) Unahalekhala, is a graduate researcher at the DevTech Research Group at Tufts University. The two studies looked at assessing young children’s ScratchJr coding projects and understanding how they create projects. Both of the studies were part of the Coding as Another Language project, which sees computer science as a new literacy for the 21st century, and is developing a literacy-based coding curriculum for K–2.

How to evaluate children’s ScratchJr projects

ScratchJr offers children 28 blocks to choose from when creating a coding project. Some of these are simple, such as blocks that determine the look of a character or setting, while others are more complex, such as messaging blocks and loops. Children can combine the blocks in many different ways to create projects of different levels of complexity.

Selecting blocks for a ScratchJr project

At the start of her presentation, Aim described a rubric that she and her colleagues at DevTech have developed to assess three key aspects of a ScratchJr coding project. These aspects are coding concepts, project design, and purposefulness.

The rubric lets educators or researchers:

  • Assess learners’ ability to use their coding knowledge to create purposeful and creative ScratchJr projects
  • Identify the level of mastery of each of the three key aspects demonstrated within the project
  • Identify where learners might need more guidance and support
The elements covered by the ScratchJr project evaluation rubric. Click to enlarge.

As part of the study, Aim and her colleagues collected coding projects from two schools at the start, middle, and end of a curriculum unit. They used the rubric to evaluate the coding projects and found that project scores increased over the course of the unit.

They also found that, overall, the scores for the project design elements were higher than those for coding concepts: many learners enjoyed spending lots of time designing their characters and settings, but made less use of other features. However, the two scores were correlated, meaning that learners who devoted a lot of time to the design of their project also got higher scores on coding concepts.

The rubric is a useful tool for any teachers using ScratchJr with their students. If you want to try it in your classroom, the validated rubric is free to download from the DevTech research group’s website.

How do young children create a project?

The rubric assesses the output created by a learner using ScratchJr. But learning is a process, not just an end outcome, and the final project might not always be an accurate reflection of a child’s understanding.

By understanding more about how young children create coding projects, we can improve teaching and curriculum design for early childhood computing education.

In the second study Aim presented, she set out to explore this question. She conducted a qualitative observation of children as they created coding projects at different stages of a curriculum unit, and used Google Analytics data to conduct a quantitative analysis of the steps the children took.

A project creation process involving iteration

Her findings highlighted the importance of encouraging young learners to explore the full variety of blocks available, both by guiding them in how to find and use different blocks, and by giving them the time and tools they need to explore on their own.

She also found that different teaching strategies are needed at different stages of the curriculum unit to support learners. This helps them to develop their understanding of both basic and advanced blocks, and to explore, customise, and iterate their projects.

Early-unit strategy:

  • Encourage free play to self-discover different functions, especially basic blocks

Mid-unit strategy:

  • Set plans on how long children will need on customising vs coding
  • More guidance on the advanced blocks, then let children explore

End-of-unit strategy:

  • Provide multiple sessions to work
  • Promote iteration by encouraging children to keep improving code and adding details
Teaching strategies for different stages of the curriculum

You can watch Aim’s full presentation here:

Take part in the UK Bebras Challenge 2023 for schools

The UK Bebras Challenge is back and ready to accept entries from schools for its annual event, which runs from 6 to 17 November.

UK Bebras 2023 logo.

More than 3 million students from 59 countries took part in the Bebras Computational Thinking Challenge in 2022. In the UK alone, over 365,000 students participated. Read on to find out how you can get your school involved.

“This is now an annual event for our Year 5 and 6 students, and one of the things I actually love about it is the results are not always what you might predict. There are children who have a clear aptitude for these puzzles who find this is their opportunity to shine!”

Claire Rawlinson, Primary Teacher, Lancashire

What is the Bebras Challenge?

Bebras is a free, annual challenge that helps schools introduce computational thinking to their students. No programming is involved, and it’s completely free for schools to enter. All Bebras questions are self-marking.

We’re making Bebras accessible by offering age-appropriate challenges for different school levels and a challenge tailored for visually impaired students. Schools can enter students from age 6 to 18 and know they’ll get interesting and challenging (but not too challenging) activities. 

Students aged 10 to 18 who do particularly well will get invited to the Oxford University Computing Challenge (OUCC).

A group of young people posing for a photo.
The winners of the Oxford University Computing Challenge 2023, with Professor Peter Millican at the OUCC Prize Day in the Raspberry Pi Foundation office.

What is the thinking behind Bebras?

We want young people to get excited about computing. Through Bebras, they will learn about computational and logical thinking by answering questions and solving problems.

Bebras questions are based on classic computing problems and are presented in a friendly, age-appropriate way. For example, an algorithm-based puzzle for learners aged 6 to 8 is presented in terms of a hungry tortoise finding an efficient eating path across a lawn; for 16- to 18-year-olds, a difficult problem based on graph theory asks students to sort out quiz teams by linking quizzers who know each other.

“This has been a really positive experience. Thank you. Shared results with Head and Head of Key Stage 3. Really useful for me when assessing Key Stage 4 options.”

– Secondary teacher, North Yorkshire

Can you solve our example Bebras puzzle?

Here’s a Bebras question for the Castors category (ages 8 to 10) from 2021. You will find the answer at the end of this blog. 


A robot picks up litter.

A simple drawing showing a robot and litter.
  1. The robot moves to the closest piece of litter and picks it up.
  2. It then moves to the next closest piece of litter and picks it up.
  3. It carries on in this way until all the litter has been picked up.

Question: Which kind of litter will the robot pick up last?

Four simple drawings: an apple, a cup, a can, and crumpled paper.

How do I get my school involved in Bebras?

The Bebras challenge for UK schools takes place from 6 to 17 November. Register at bebras.uk/admin to get free access to the challenge.

By registering, you also get access to the Bebras back catalogue of questions, from which you can build your own quizzes to use in your school at any time during the year. All the quizzes are self-marking, and you can download your students’ results for your mark book. Schools have reported using these questions for end-of-term activities, lesson starters, and schemes of lessons about computational thinking.

Puzzle answer

The answer to the example puzzle is:

A simple drawing of a cup.

The image below shows the route the robot takes by following the instructions:

A simple drawing showing the route a robot walks to pick up litter.

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Launch kids’ code into space with the European Astro Pi Challenge 2023/24

Throughout this year, space agencies have been embarking on new missions to explore our solar system, and young people can get involved too through the European Astro Pi Challenge 2023/24, which we’re launching today.

Logo of the European Astro Pi Challenge.

Kids’ code in space with the Astro Pi Challenge

In the past few months India’s Chandrayaan-3 mission landed near the Moon’s south pole, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe flew by Venus on its way to the sun, and the SpaceX Crew-7 launched to the International Space Station (ISS), led by ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen. We’re especially excited about Andreas’ mission because he’s the astronaut who will help to run young people’s Astro Pi programs on board the ISS this year.

ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen on board the ISS.
ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen will help run kids’ Astro Pi code on board the ISS. Can you spot an Astro Pi computer in the photo?

As you may know, the European Astro Pi Challenge gives young people the amazing opportunity to conduct scientific experiments in space by writing computer programs for the Astro Pis, special Raspberry Pi computers on board the ISS.

Two Astro Pis on board the International Space Station.
Two Astro Pis on board the International Space Station.

The Astro Pi Challenge is free and offers two missions for young people: Mission Zero is an inspiring activity for introducing kids to text-based programming with Python. Mission Space Lab gives teams of young people the chance to take on a more challenging programming task and stretch their coding and science skills.

A young person with her coding project at a laptop.

Participation in Astro Pi is open to young people up to age 19 in ESA Member States (see the Astro Pi website for eligibility details).

Astro Pi Mission Zero opens today

In Astro Pi Mission Zero, young people write a simple Python program to take a reading using a sensor on one of the ISS Astro Pi computers and display a personalised pixel art image for the astronauts on board the ISS. They can take part by themselves or as coding teams.

Logo of Mission Zero, part of the European Astro Pi Challenge.

The theme for Mission Zero 2023/24 is ‘fauna and flora’: young people are invited to program pixel art images or animations of animals, plants, or fungi to display on the Astro Pi computers’ LED pixel screen and remind the astronauts aboard the ISS of Earth’s natural wonders.

A collection of 8 by 8 pixel images of animals.
A selection of Mission Zero pixel art images of animals.

By following the guide we provide, kids can complete the Mission Zero coding activity in around one hour, for example during a school lesson or coding club session. No coding experience is needed to take part. Kids can write their code in any web browser on any computer connected to the internet, without special equipment or software.

A map of Earth.
Mission Zero participants get a certificate showing the exact time and place where their code was run in space.

All young people that meet the eligibility criteria and follow the official Mission Zero guidelines will have their program run in space for up to 30 seconds. They will receive a unique and personalised certificate to show their coding achievement. The certificate will display the exact start and end time of their program’s run, and where the ISS was above Earth in this time period.

Mission Zero 2023/24 opens today and is open until Monday 25 March 2024. It’s very easy to support young people to get involved — find out more on the Astro Pi website:

Astro Pi Mission Space Lab will open soon

In this year’s Astro Pi Mission Space Lab, ESA astronauts are inviting teams of young people to solve a scientific task by writing a Python program.

Astro Pi Mission Space Lab logo.

The Mission Space Lab task is to gather data with the Astro Pi computers to calculate the speed at which the ISS is travelling. This new format of the mission will allow many more young people to run their programs in space and get a taste of space science.

The Strait of Gibraltar photographed by an Astro Pi on board the ISS.
The Strait of Gibraltar photographed by an Astro Pi on board the ISS during a previous Mission Space Lab.

Mission Space Lab will open on 6 November. We will share more information about how young people and mentors can participate very soon.

Sign up for Astro Pi news

The European Astro Pi Challenge is an ESA Education project run in collaboration with us here at the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

You can keep up with all Astro Pi news by following the Astro Pi X account (formerly Twitter) or signing up to the newsletter at astro-pi.org.

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Celebrating young tech creators in person: Coolest Projects events 2023

In the 2023 Coolest Projects online showcase, 5801 young people from all over the world shared the wonderful, fun, and creative things they had made with technology. But that’s not all we’ve seen of Coolest Projects this year. As well as our worldwide annual online showcase, a number of in-person Coolest Projects events are taking place in countries across the globe in 2023.

The exhibition hall at Coolest Projects Ireland 2023.
The exhibition hall at Coolest Projects Ireland 2023.

Run by us or partner organisations, these exciting events create a space for young people to meet other young tech creators, connect to their community, and celebrate each others’ creations. In-person Coolest Projects events around the world had to pause over the coronavirus pandemic, and we’re delighted to see them return to engage and inspire young people once again.

Coolest Projects Ireland in Dublin

On 1 July, we were super excited to host Coolest Projects Ireland, our first in-person Coolest Projects event since 2020. 63 young tech creators from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland came together in Dublin for an exciting one-day event where they shared 43 incredible creations, with engineer and STEM communicator Dr Niamh Shaw leading everyone through the day’s celebrations.

Young tech creators with projects in the Scratch category on stage at Coolest Projects Ireland.
The creators with projects in the Scratch category on stage with Dr Niamh Shaw.

One young maker showcasing her project was Charlotte from Kinsale CoderDojo in the Republic of Ireland. Her creative storytelling project ‘Goldicat and the Three Angry Property Owners’ was chosen as a judges’ favourite in the Scratch category.

Charlotte’s story includes different games and three secret endings for the user to discover. She told us: “I know someone who made an animation based off the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel in Scratch. This inspired me to make a game based off a different fairy tale, Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”

Charlotte’s project ‘Goldicat and the Three Angry Property Owners’.

Harshit entered the Hardware category with his amazing mini vending machine. Describing his project, he explained, “This is a recreation of a vending machine, but I have added my own twists to it to make it simple to build. You still get the full experience of an actual vending machine, but what makes it special is that it is made fully out of recycled materials.”

A young tech creator with a hardware project at Coolest Projects Ireland.
Harshit with his mini vending machine project.

Young people at Coolest Projects Ireland were joined and supported by family, friends, and mentors from Code Clubs and CoderDojos. Mentors told us their favourite things about attending a Coolest Projects event in person were “the joy and excitement the participants got from taking part and discussing their project with the judges”, and “the way it was very inclusive to all children and all [were] included on stage for some swag!”

Coolest Projects events by partners around the world

In 2023 we’re partnering with six organisations that are bringing Coolest Projects events for their communities. We’re still looking forward to the exciting Coolest Projects events planned in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Iraq, and South Africa during the rest of the year. 

Back in June, more than 30 young creators participated in Coolest Projects Hungary, which was organised in Budapest by the team at EPAM. And April saw our partner CoderDojo Belgium organise Coolest Projects Belgium for 40 young people, who shared 25 projects across different categories from Scratch to Hardware and Advanced Programming.

Experience AI: Teach about AI, chatbots, and biology

New artificial intelligence (AI) tools have had a profound impact on many areas of our lives in the past twelve months, including on education. Teachers and schools have been exploring how AI tools can transform their work, and how they can teach their learners about this rapidly developing technology. As enabling all schools and teachers to help their learners understand computing and digital technologies is part of our mission, we’ve been working hard to support educators with high-quality, free teaching resources about AI through Experience AI, our learning programme in partnership with Google DeepMind.


In this article, we take you through the updates we’ve made to the Experience AI Lessons based on teachers’ feedback, reveal two new lessons on large language models (LLMs) and biology, and give you the chance to shape the future of the Experience AI programme. 

Updated lessons based on your feedback

In April we launched the first Experience AI Lessons as a unit of six lessons for secondary school students (ages 11 to 14, Key Stage 3) that gives you everything you need to teach AI, including lesson plans, slide decks, worksheets, and videos. Since the launch, we’ve worked closely with teachers and learners to make improvements to the lesson materials.

The first big update you’ll see now is an additional project for students to do across Lesson 5 and Lesson 6. Before, students could choose between two projects to create their own machine learning model, either to classify data from the world’s oceans or to identify fake news. The new project we’ve added gives students the chance to use images to train a machine learning model to identify whether or not an item is biodegradable and therefore suitable to be put in a food waste bin.

Two teenagers sit at laptops and do coding activities.

Our second big update is a new set of teacher-focused videos that summarise each lesson and highlight possible talking points. We hope these videos will help you feel confident and ready to deliver the Experience AI Lessons to your learners.

A new lesson on large language models

As well as updating the six existing lessons, we’ve just released a new seventh lesson consisting of a set of activities to help students learn about the capabilities, opportunities, and downsides of LLMs, the models that AI chatbots are based on.

With the LLM lesson’s activities you can help your learners to:

  • Explore the purpose and functionality of LLMs and examine the critical aspect of trustworthiness of these models’ outputs
  • Examine the reasons why the output of LLMs may not always be reliable and understand that LLMs are machines that make predictions
  • Compare LLMs to other technologies to assess their suitability for different purposes
  • Evaluate the appropriateness of using LLMs in a variety of authentic scenarios
A slide from an Experience AI Lesson about large language models.
An example activity in our new LLM unit.

All Experience AI Lessons are designed to be cross-curricular, and for England-based teachers, the LLM lesson is particularly useful for teaching PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic education).

The LLM lesson is designed as a set of five 10-minute activities, so you have the flexibility to teach the material as a single lesson or over a number of sessions. While we recommend that you teach the activities in the order they come, you can easily adapt them for your learners’ interests and needs. Feel free to take longer than our recommended time and have fun with them.

A new lesson on biology: AI for the Serengeti

We have also been working on an exciting new lesson to introduce AI to secondary school students (ages 11 to 14, Key Stage 3) in the biology classroom. This stand-alone lesson focuses on how AI can help conservationists with monitoring an ecosystem in the Serengeti.

Elephants in the Serengeti.

We worked alongside members of the Biology Education Research Group (BERG) at the UK’s Royal Society of Biology to make sure the lesson is relevant and accessible for Key Stage 3 teachers and their learners.

Register your interest if you would like to be one of the first teachers to try out this thought-provoking lesson.  

Webinars to support your teaching

If you want to use the Experience AI materials but would like more support, our new webinar series will help you. You will get your questions answered by the people who created the lessons. Our first webinar covered the six-lesson unit and you can watch the recording now:

September’s webinar: How to use Machine Learning for Kids

Join us to learn how to use Machine Learning for Kids (ML4K), a child-friendly tool for training AI models that is used for project work throughout the Experience AI Lessons. The September webinar will be with Dale Lane, who has spent his career developing AI technology and is the creator of ML4K.

Help shape the future of AI education

We need your feedback like a machine learning model needs data. Here are two ways you can share your thoughts:

  1. Fill in our from to tell us how you’ve used the Experience AI materials.
  2. Become part of our teacher feedback panel. We meet every half term, and our first session will be held mid-October. Email us to register your interest and we’ll be in touch.

To find out more about how you can use Experience AI to teach AI and machine learning to your learners this school year, visit the Experience AI website.

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