I got the answer to this question in Geneva on July 31, 2020
At the invitation of Laura, the Director of the impactIA Foundation, I am going to a camp whose title resembles Star Wars: Robotics and Artificial Intelligence.
I do not know the district of Geneva, where I have to go. A little distracted glance at Google Maps allowed me to see that the camp is taking place on the Châtelaine side. I know that in 2017 the Haute-École d’Art et de Design (HEAD) opened a campus that is considered very successful architecturally. The camp may take place there. I kinda expect to wander the pristine hallways of the Dark Star.
My GPS takes me past Châtelaine and leads me a little further. I discover a cabin looking like a Rebel Alliance in the Robinson Garden’s green spaces in Vernier.
The moment I enter the cabin, the presence of the Makerspace spirit is confirmed.
Camp participants, children aged 9 to 13, are busy programming small robots in front of screens. Well, some children. Others come and go around the tables that form an island. They seem to be looking for distractions, but it is their way of concentrating on their tasks in reality. In the spirit of peer learning that prevails at this time of day, they learn by interacting directly with the more advanced participants.
As I approach, I see John, the AI specialist at the camp, making sure that all the participants, grouped in pairs, find the solutions they need to move their projects forward. One of the participants demonstrates to me the Raspberry Pi from which he programs his robot, whose goal is to reproduce the writing movement.
Robotics doesn’t have to be artificial intelligence.
I am investigating the camp creators, and little by little, I discover the originality and richness of the RAIE concept – Robotic Artificial Intelligence Education.
Schematically, the activities are organized around the three poles which punctuate the five days of the camp:
• Discussions on the ethical issues of Artificial Intelligence
• Direct contact with Artificial Intelligence through fun activities developed from the Machine Learning for Kids platform
• Development of a personal project associating the programming of a scripting robot with the Scratch language operated from Raspberry Pi computers
Active warm-ups and watermelon-flavored breaks ensure that the camp maintains an atmosphere of vacation and relaxation.
Laura introduces me to the camp team. Olivier is the camp coordinator, a real MacGyver. He has a solution for everything: he designs the non-AI activities and ensures the equipment’s proper functioning. Audrey leads discussions on ethical issues. Obada supports John in work on the programming. Owen takes care of facilitating the work of the groups.
Setting up an RAIE camp involves exploring new ways of teaching.
Olivier used a 3D printer to build some of the robot parts. Audrey had to change the discussions to relate them more clearly to the workshops that put children in contact with Artificial Intelligence. The programmers have decided to juggle the Macs initially planned and the Raspberry Pi, which will allow children to take their robots with them and continue programming in the Master of AI Academy (MAIA).
The impactIA foundation has, in fact, decided to set up an evolving program over the year, once a month on Wednesday afternoons by video conference for 10 -18-year-olds, with a part of learning by peers.
Contrary to what one might think, the resources needed to teach Artificial Intelligence are relatively easy to find. The necessary software is free, and it runs on conventional computers. The parts required to create the robots can be 3D printed if they are not commercially available.
The real challenge lies in the constant exploration of solutions based on the feedback generated by the setting up of teaching something that is not yet introduced.
The specific dimension of the RAIE approach requires structuring spaces and activities with the same skills as those that children will develop and which cover the entire spectrum of 21st Century Skills (6C’s by Michael Fullan): creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, character, citizenship.
In the end, the invention of AI teaching requires, above all, an entrepreneurial mindset.