Machine Learning for Kids

A Project-Based Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
by Dale Lane
February 2021, 288 pp
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Check out the book's companion website.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the ability of computers to simulate human thinking. Machine learning (ML) is one of the building blocks of AI. It’s based on the idea that computers can be taught to do things on their own from the data and feedback you give them.

Machine Learning for Kids consists of this book and a kid-friendly companion website paired with the educational coding platform, Scratch. Together, they provide an easy-to-use guided programming environment for adding ML capabilities to your own AI projects!

As you work through each chapter you’ll discover how ML systems can be taught to recognize text, images, numbers, and sounds, and different ways of training ML models to improve their accuracy. You’ll turn your models into fun computer games and apps (and see what happens when an AI system gets confused by bad data) while building:

  • A Rock, Paper, Scissors game that knows your hand shapes
  • A smart question-answering chatbot
  • A computer character that reacts to insults and compliments
  • An interactive virtual assistant (like Amazon’s Alexa) that obeys commands
  • An AI version of Pac-Man, with a character trained to avoid ghosts

Requirements: No experience in machine learning or basic coding is necessary! This book includes a Scratch tutorial for beginners, and step-by-step instructions for every project.

Ages 12+

Author Bio 

Dale Lane is an award-winning, UK-based IBM developer who has worked on IBM’s groundbreaking AI Watson platform since 2011. As a father of two, he enjoys projects that teach core principles of machine learning to younger students. Lane’s acclaimed website (, a key component of this book, is used in thousands of schools worldwide.

Table of contents 


Chapter 1. What is Artificial Intelligence?
Chapter 2. Introducing Machine Learning for Kids
Chapter 3. Sorting Animal Pictures
Chapter 4. Playing Rock, Paper, Scissors Against Your Computer
Chapter 5. Recognizing Movie Posters
Chapter 6. Mail Sorting
Chapter 7. Insulting a Computer
Chapter 8. Recognizing Language in Newspapers
Chapter 9. Finding an Object in a Picture
Chapter 10. Smart Assistants
Chapter 11. Chatbots
Chapter 12. Avoiding the Monster
Chapter 13. Tic Tac Toe
Chapter 14. Confusing the Computer
Chapter 15. Biasing the Computer
Chapter 16. Afterword

Appendix: Scratch

View the Copyright Page
View the detailed Table of Contents
View the Index


“What delights me about this book is that it’s wonderfully pragmatic, for it guides you in building AI systems that are very much relevant to contemporary computer science.”
(from the foreword)
—Grady Booch, IBM Fellow and Chief Scientist for Software Engineering, IBM Research