Machine learning resources

Machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence (AI) that allows computer systems to carry out complex processes by learning from data, rather than following pre-programmed rules. Recent years have seen exciting advances in machine learning, with many people now interacting with systems based on machine learning every day.

Age Range: Primary and Secondary Type: Teacher Resource

The Royal Society’s programme of work on machine learning has been investigating the potential of this technology over the next 5 – 10 years, and the barriers to realising that potential. One of the aims of the Society’s Schools Engagement programme is to ensure that students aged 5 – 18 are able to develop key STEM skills for broader future career choices. Careers are becoming more flexible and students entering the workplace need to have a broader range of skills that encompass new and developing technologies.

Machine learning CREST Award resources

The Society contracted the British Science Association to produce a series of CREST Award resources to encourage students to explore machine learning and its capabilities. There are three resources as shown below:

1. For students aged 10 upwards – CREST Discovery Award 

Machines of the future is intended to be delivered as a whole day activity (a Discovery day) or a series of lessons. 

In this short video, Professor Brian Cox explains the importance of introducing younger children to the concept of machine learning and provides some background to the Discovery Award resource.

In this second video, Professor Brian Cox explains in more detail how teachers can set up and run the Machines of the future Discovery Day, which students would benefit from taking part, what equipment is required and what the resource pack contains.

2. For students aged 11 upwards – CREST Bronze Award 

This resource pack contains four separate project ideas to get students thinking about the application of machine learning and AI. The project topics are:

  • Digital health
  • AI agriculture
  • Taught by technology
  • How can you create a trustworthy machine?

3. For students aged 14 upwards – CREST Silver Award

This resource pack contains three separate project ideas to get students thinking about the application of machine learning and AI. The project topics are:

  • Disease detection
  • A world without driving
  • Personal assistant

Machine learning infographics and videos

Machine learning is already shaping the world around us in surprising and exciting ways. Allow your students to explore this interactive infographic (which contains various quizzes) or watch this video for an introduction to what machine learning is.

Teachers from the Royal Society Schools Network have identified various video excerpts (mini-clips) that can be used as lesson resources to help explore the topic of AI and machine learning. Each clip introduces an idea, such as ‘How do machines learn?’ or ‘Is it intelligence, learning or mimicry?’, and last just a couple of minutes. The excerpts are all taken from the You and AI lecture series, and are focused on secondary level learning.