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Cynthia Breazeal wins the AAMAS Influential Paper Award. - May 3, 2021

Cynthia Breazeal delivers keynote at the 20th annual AAMAS conference

Prof. Breazeal delivers a keynote on her research on the occasion of winning the 2021 Influential Paper Award for her work Emotion and Sociable Humanoid Robots in International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, Vol. 59, Issues 1-2, pp. 119-155, July 2003.

AAMAS 2021 Cynthia

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MIT CS+AI Literary Learning Community Gathering - January 13, 2021

The MIT CS+AI learning community gathers for the first time.

The MIT CS+AI Literacy Learning Community is a group of educators, researchers, and designers working together to create an open community around the AI literacy work being done at MIT. Teachers and educators have the opportunity to learn about and playtest various AI literacy materials alongside researchers.

First MIT CS+AI community gathering.

Hong Kong Jockey Club publishes report on CoolThink@JC - December, 2020

Report details impact since project launch in 2016.

The CoolThink@JC pilot project was introduced in 32 local primary schools of different types citywide from 2016/17 academic year onwards and has been supported by extensive teacher professional development initiatives, workshops and parent education activities. A standard set of learning materials has been developed for pupils in Primary 4 to 6 grades, and the schools involved have been given support where necessary in adding the relevant hardware and infrastructure. Among the notable findings to date, more than 90% of school principals citywide have expressed their support for coding education and would like to see it strengthened; 80% of teachers trained under the project have found they teach CoolThink in a different, more student-centric way; and 76% say they would recommend it to others. Perhaps most importantly of all, 89% of the student projects have demonstrated innovative capability, while CoolThink students have shown significant growth in problem-solving skills compared with students not participating in the project.

Hong Kong Jockey Club publishes report.

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Massachusetts STEM Week - October 19, 2020

Cynthia Breazeal delivers keynote at Mass STEM Week 2020.

Mass STEM Week is a statewide effort to boost the interest, awareness and ability for all learners to envision themselves in STEM education and employment opportunities, and compliment the formal instruction happening in the Commonwealth beyond STEM week.

Cynthia Breazeal gives keynote.
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Balance weighing the differences between two search algorithms.
A New Class of AI Ethics - May 22, 2020

Groups such as AI4K12 and the MIT Media Lab have begun to study the issue and develop AI learning frameworks for K-12 students. Image by Kevin Craft.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab has created AI + Ethics Curriculum for Middle School, a program focused on developing open-source curricula through lessons and activities. The program has been piloted at Montour Public Schools near Pittsburgh, PA, a school district that also offers a three-day AI course for elementary students that also touches on ethics issues.

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Girl Scouts participate in Cybersecurity Day workshop in a full scale recreation of the US Senate Chamber.
Family-Friendly Data Privacy + AI Activities - April 13, 2020

Interactive lessons to help kids learn and design with data privacy in mind

Researchers from MIT Media Lab share new data privacy and design activities, and at-home tech and AI debate guides for families that have been developed and piloted in the Boston area with the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts. They have developed learning videos for students to learn about data privacy and design in AI.

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Group of children in red uniform shirts and a teacher gather around a Jibo robot and a tablet while researcher looks on
Learning about artificial intelligence: A hub of MIT resources for K-12 students - April 7, 2020

MIT Launches AI Education Website

Introducing Innovation Learning and Education in the Era of #AI: a hub of learning tools and resources to help K-12 kids learn about artificial intelligence—including ethical design and responsible use. https://raise.mit.edu. Led by Cynthia Breazeal, the website is a collaboration between MIT Media Lab, MIT Schwarzman College of Computing, and MIT Open Learning Initiative, highlighting diverse work by faculty, staff, and students across the MIT community at the intersection of AI, learning, and education.

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PopBot that looks like a WALL-E character with programming interface.
PopBots: Preschool AI - March 22, 2020

PopBots open AI to the youngest learners

From Siri to gaming, artificial intelligence is all around us. Ben Hall explores an innovative project run by MIT that makes this technology accessible to preschoolers.

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Two Girl Scout badges resting on a keyboard. One is triangular and shows a dog on a laptop, while the other is circular and shows a cycle between a monitor and a cloud.
Ethics, Relationship with AI - January 23, 2020

Cybersecurity Badge Day 2020

With the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts and Edward M. Kennedy Institute, the Media Lab’s Personal Robots group directed by Cynthia Breazeal collaborated to gather over 60 Girl Scouts and their parents for Cybersecurity Badge Day. The Girl Scouts participated in workshops and then convened to vote on a data privacy draft bill in a full-scale replica of the US Senate Chamber.

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A large group of children and their teachers stand smiling for a picture in a classroom.
AI Education, Ethics - December 30, 2019

Bringing artificial intelligence and MIT to middle school classrooms

During Mass STEM Week in October, middle schools across the commonwealth replaced their regular curriculum with an immersive week of hands-on learning led by a team including Cynthia Breazeal, associate professor of media arts and sciences at MIT; Randi Williams ’18, graduate research assistant in the Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab; and the nonprofit organization i2 Learning.

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Cartoon image of a woman with glasses, five children of various ages, a humanoid robot, and a feline robot. The children are surrounding the woman and the humanoid robot. The woman and the humanoid robot are touchng fingers while the feline robot carries a pencil in its mouth.
AI Education - December 27, 2019

Play this bingo game with your kids to teach them about AI

Designed at MIT and tested by kids ages 9 through 14, it builds off research that shows how exposing kids to technology fosters their interest in STEM.

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Child with a pink marker draws on a poster on which they have redesigned the YouTube user interface.
AI Education, Ethics - September 4, 2019

MIT developed a course to teach tweens about the ethics of AI

Payne created an open source, middle-school AI ethics curriculum to make kids aware of how AI systems mediate their everyday lives, from YouTube and Amazon’s Alexa to Google search and social media. By starting early, she hopes the kids will become more conscious of how AI is designed and how it can manipulate them. These lessons also help prepare them for the jobs of the future, and potentially become AI designers rather than just consumers.

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A researcher talks to two middle school students while sitting at a table.
Ethics, AI Education - July 31, 2019

Teaching Kids the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence

Research suggests kids growing up on Alexa and Google Home think that these devices are smarter than them. But a new kind of summer camp wants kids to know that artificial intelligence (AI) is far from perfect.

Welcome to AI Ethics camp.

In a classroom on the second floor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab, two dozen middle school-aged kids wearing neon green t-shirts sat in clusters around tables. Standing at the front of the room was MIT researcher Blakeley H. Payne, who’s devoted her graduate studies in the Media Lab to the ethics of artificial intelligence.

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Poster for the movie CodeGirl
Computational Thinking Education - July 27, 2019

CODEGIRL Movie

By 2017, the app market will be valued at $77 Billion. Over 80% of these developers are male. The Technovation Challenge aims to change that by empowering girls worldwide to develop apps for an international competition. From rural Moldova to urban Brazil to suburban Massachusetts, CODEGIRL follows teams who dream of holding their own in the world’s fastest-growing industry. The winning team gets $10K to complete and release their app, but every girl discovers something valuable along the way.

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Two girls discuss a worksheet while sitting across from each other at a table.
Ethics, AI Education - Jun 3, 2019

Generation AI: Teaching a new kind of tech savvy

In 2017, my colleagues in the Personal Robots group ran a study. Children, ages 6–10 years of age, were invited to the Media Lab to play with various smart devices (think: Amazon Alexa or Google Home). After the kids had an opportunity to play and interact with these devices, the researchers asked them each the following question: do you think the device is smarter, just as smart, or less smart than you? Here were the responses:

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Children playing with tablets to program their robots, which are made out of Legos and Android phones with smiley faces programmed onto them.
AI Education - May 16, 2019

Educación Así enseña el MIT inteligencia artificial a los niños

Democratizar el desarrollo de tecnologías de inteligencia artificial (IA). Es el propósito del grupo Personal Robots del MIT Media Lab, en Boston (EE.UU), donde RETINA ha podido conocer de primera mano a PopBot. Se trata de un robot social programable e ‘inteligente’ que juega con los niños para ayudarles a aprender IA. Es un compañero de aprendizaje que emplea herramientas como el smartphone, bloques LEGO, Arduino y una tableta u ordenador. En torno a este ecosistema tecnológico se desarrollan actividades de IA que permiten a los niños crear sus propios algoritmos.

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A picture of Media Lab researcher Blakeley Payne. 'The future of everything: How to teach kids about AI'
Ethics, AI Education - May 13, 2019

How to Teach Kids About AI

Today’s middle schoolers may be the first “artificial intelligence natives,” a generation that’s grown up interacting with YouTube’s algorithm or Amazon’s Alexa smart speaker. Educators are grappling with how to teach children to be responsible consumers of the technology.

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Fartoon image of various social robots. The subtitle says, 'Researchers are testing a motley crew of robots to serve as tutors and learning companions for children in classrooms or at home.'
Educational Robots - Feb 12, 2019

Robots are becoming classroom tutors. But will they make the grade?

Pondering a tablet screen displaying a town scene, a pre-K student tilts her head to the side and taps her lip thoughtfully.“What are we trying to find?” asks the plush, red and blue robot called Tega that’s perched on the desk beside the girl. The bot resembles a teddy bear–sized Furby.

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Three children at school sit at a table with a Jibo robot.
Ethics, AI Education - Spring 2019

Democratizing AI through K-12 AI Education for All.

How can we prepare non-university students with knowledge, skills, and attitudes for future careers thatincreasingly rely on AI technologies? Otherwise, we risk leaving far too many people behind in the emerging AI-economy -- causing significant societal stress and divisiveness rather than enabling transformative opportunity where everyone can participate in, benefit from, influence our future with AI. Inequity of education remains a key barrier to future opportunities and jobs where success dependsincreasingly on intellect, creativity, and the right skills. While AI is already entering the education systemo support students, teachers, or school administration -- it is not currently offered as a topic to be learneduntil the university level.

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Randi Williams, PhD student and AI researcher at the MIT Media Lab
AI Education - Jan 31, 2019

Teaching AI to Preschoolers with Randi Williams

At the Black in AI workshop Randi presented her research on Popbots: A Early Childhood AI Curriculum, which is geared towards teaching preschoolers the fundamentals of artificial intelligence. In our conversation, we discuss the origins of the project, the three AI concepts that are taught in the program, and the goals that Randi hopes to accomplish with her work. This was a fun conversation!

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Profile view of three children sitting at their laptops coding.
Computational Thinking Education - Jan 28, 2019

Build an app, change your world with February’s Creative Computing Challenge

MANCHESTER, NH — University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension STEM Docents and SEE Science Center are teaming up for the Creative Computing Challenge, an app-building event for Manchester area youth taking place throughout February.Beginning on Feb. 2 from 10 a.m.-noon, STEM Docent volunteers will guide youth through the basics of mobile app development to help them build apps and change their world. Registration is open at see-sciencecenter.org and the program takes place for four weekends.

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Two boys use a controller to navigate a program on a laptop sitting in front of them on the table
Ethics, AI Education - Jan 4, 2019

An Inside Look – America’s First Public School AI Program

When the Montour School District launched America’s first Artificial Intelligence Middle School program in the fall of 2018, many questions arose. Why middle school? Why teach Artificial Intelligence? How? (Just to name a few). But, as a student-centered and future-focused district, the thought process was not if we should teach AI, but what if we don’t teach AI? Also, why isn’t everyone teaching AI?

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Camera attached to a smart device.
Children's Relationships with AI - Sept 11, 2018

Should You Get an AI Nanny for Your Child?

Mattel’s AI nanny, called Aristotle, recently gained the notorious distinction of being subject to a bipartisan protest in the US Congress. Plus, there was a petition against it with over 15,000 signatures. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which organized the petition, argued that Aristotle is a consumerist ploy. It “attempts to replace the care, judgment and companionship of loving family members with faux nurturing and conversation from a robot designed to sell products and build brand loyalty.”

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This cartoon shows a child riding on top of a robot and pointing forwards
Children's Relationships with AI - Dec 1, 2017

Should Children Form Emotional Bonds With Robots?

When i brought the robot home from the Apple Store, I knew I was inviting a new kind of strangeness into our lives. My wife worried about giving our 4-year-old son a(nother) digital thing, a “smart” thing. I worried that he wouldn’t know what to make of it. Or that his little sister would break it. Or that I’d be jealous. Because I have always wanted a robot.

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In this cartoon, a robot teacher stands before a group of young children who are sitting crosslegged facing the robot
Educational Robots - Aug 26, 2017

The Secret to A Good Robot Teacher

When I brought the robot home from the Apple Store, I knew I was inviting a new kind of strangeness into our lives. My wife worried about giving our 4-year-old son a(nother) digital thing, a “smart” thing. I worried that he wouldn’t know what to make of it. Or that his little sister would break it. Or that I’d be jealous. Because I have always wanted a robot.

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In this cartoon, a child scolds a box shaped robot on the floor. The child is surrounded by Legos.
Children's Relationships with AI - Aug 16, 2017

Growing Up with Alexa

When it comes to digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, my four-year-old niece Hannah Metz is an early adopter. Her family has four puck-like Amazon Echo Dot devices plugged in around her house—including one in her bedroom—that she can use to call on Alexa at any moment.

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A boy participates in a study with a fluffy red Tega robot. He has blue headphones on and is staring very intently at the robot.
Educational Robots - March 14, 2016

Robot Learning Companion Offers Custom-tailored Tutoring

Parents want the best for their children's education and often complain about large class sizes and the lack of individual attention.Goren Gordon, an artificial intelligence researcher from Tel Aviv University who runs the Curiosity Lab there, is no different.He and his wife spend as much time as they can with their children, but there are still times when their kids are alone or unsupervised. At those times, they'd like their children to have a companion to learn and play with, Gordon says.

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A smiling girl wearing blue headphones reaches out to squeeze the face of a fluffy red Tega robot. The robot is replying, 'Hey, that's my face!'
Educational Robots - March 2, 2016

Kids Love MIT's Latest Squishable Social Robot (Mostly)

MIT’s Personal Robotics Group has been one of the driving forces behind social robotics since… well, since they pretty much invented social robotics. Led by Professor Cynthia Breazeal, who is also founder of social robot startup Jibo, the MIT group has built an amazing collection of smart, cute, and squishy creatures, and now they have a new one. The latest, smartest, cutest, and squishiest social robot that MIT has been testing out is named Tega, and it’s already gotten to work, adorably teaching Spanish to preschoolers.

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DragonBot, a fluffy orange robot, with his claws outstretched and an angry expression.
Educational Robots - March 16, 2015

MIT's DragonBot Evolving to Better Teach Kids

MIT introduced Kombusto, their dragon robot designed to teach stuff to preschoolers, back in 2011. Since then, the Personal Robots Group has been doing a substantial amount of research and experimentation to figure out how best to utilize the robot to productively interact with children. We have some updates on how it’s been going, along with a look at the brand new robot that MIT is developing to work with kids for months at a time.

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A teal colored robot overlooks a paper activity with various different types of emoji stickers.
Computational Thinking Education - March 11, 2015

Teaching programming to preschoolers

Researchers at the MIT Media Laboratory are developing a system that enables young children to program interactive robots by affixing stickers to laminated sheets of paper.Not only could the system introduce children to programming principles, but it could also serve as a research tool, to help determine which computational concepts children can grasp at what ages, and how interactive robots can best be integrated into educational curricula.

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A smiling DragonBot
Computational Thinking Education - May 14, 2014

Kindergarten bots teach language to tots

BLUE, a fluffy robot with cartoon eyes, is telling a little girl a story about a snowman. The tale plays out in pictures on a tablet that sits between the preschooler and Blue’s soft plastic feet. Blue’s eyes look down at the characters as it describes them, then up at the child to check that she’s paying attention. The 5-year-old is one of the first children to learn language skills from a robot, and she is captivated.

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Two older men sit at a table with Personal Robots head Cynthia Breazeal. On the table sits a smiling DragonBot.
Educational Robots - Oct 25, 2011

Robot Dragon to Help Kids With Language Skills

The last few robot dragons that we've been introduced to have done a pretty good job living up to that whole "dragon" mythos, being giant and dangerous and potentially scary. But dragons can also be cute and fuzzy and cuddly, and researchers at Northeastern University, Harvard, and MIT have gotten together and invented a little robot dragon designed to appeal to preschoolers. Fans of celebrity roboticists might recognize MIT's Cynthia Breazeal in the above picture on the far left; also in the pic are David DeSteno from Northeastern (right) and Paul Harris from Harvard (far right).

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