A Great First AI Activity for Any Kid!

Updated: Apr 11


AI Artificial Intelligence activities for kids - mood detector, natural language processing NLP

In many of the classes that we teach, the first AI that we have students build is called "Guess My Mood". This is a simple example of Natural Language Processing (the type of AI that understands languages), and we have found that it is a great way to get kids of any age to appreciate how AI works.


What is the Guess my Mood AI activity?


It is a very simple AI that predicts whether you are Happy or Sad based on your mood. The dataset (crowdsourced from high school kids) has sentences that convey happiness or sadness. For example, see the below:




What is this AI exercise? What AI do they build?


The kid uses this dataset to train their AI. They then ask the AI questions and see how well it has learned the concepts of Happy and Sad. They can then "fix" the AI, adding their own examples to help it better understand Happy and Sad, or even teach it a new emotion - like Hungry. The more they interact with their AI, the smarter it becomes, and the more the AI learns to "think" like the kid doing the AI training. For example, if the kid hates chocolate, the AI can be taught that too!


The whole exercise takes less than 30 minutes.


Why is this a great exercise?


This exercise, while being very simple, intuitive and engaging, has nonetheless some very important concepts that kids can learn:


- The problem looks simple but it is not. Since the user can enter in any sentence, there is an infinite combination of possible ways to express happiness and sadness - and they do not need to include the words happy and sad! Kids can appreciate that it would be impossible to write a set of rules that factor in every combination of every word. They learn that AI is great for these kinds of problems because AI can learn patterns. Any problem where there is a pattern but it is hard to discover, is a good candidate for an AI. Any problem where the pattern is obvious (like looking for the word "sad"), does not need an AI.