ReadyAI – Middle School

Lesson 2: Object Recognition

Essential Question

Why is object recognition important to AI?

Summary of Lesson

The ReadyAI program focuses on artificial intelligence (AI) in robotics. So, it is important that students understand the AI capabilities of the tools. It is also important that students know they can set up the system and recognize that they will create a project in the program.



Can students …

  • program Cozmo to identify a cube?
  • program Cozmo to say, “Cube”?
  • orally evaluate uses for the AI principle of object recognition?


Students will be able to

  • describe what object recognition is.
  • demonstrate their ability to program AI object recognition.
  • express applications for the features of Cozmo they experience.

Tools and Materials

Connecting to Prior Knowledge

What makes AI robots special?

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Teaching Guide

Ice Breakers (5 minutes)

Teacher asks, “What is one sign that a dog is a smart animal?”

  • Teacher gathers ideas from students, writes them on the board.

Teacher asks, “Can AI do this?” and “Why does AI need to do this?”

Teacher resources:

Teacher Resource 2.1 details some possible answers for the icebreaker question.

PowerPoint 2

Check for understanding:

Can AI recognize an object? Why does it need to?


Let’s first learn why it is essential for AI to recognize.

Teacher Presentation (15 minutes)

Teacher begins Presentation module by showing video from this website:

Teacher asks,

  • Why might people be scared of AI?
  • Possible answers include replacing humans, killer robots, Terminator, etc.

Teacher then follows up with,

  • Based on what you learned last week, why was this accident NOT the fault of AI?
  • Key answer: Assembly lines use robots, not AI.

Teacher closes discussion with

  • What would AI have done differently?
  • Key answer: AI would have recognized it was a human and stopped the system.

Teacher prompts: Let’s begin programming our AI unit, Cozmo, to do just this. Teacher then presents Cozmo’s object identification feature. Teacher explains frame in Calypso. Teacher demonstrates how Cozmo can identify objects. Teacher also demonstrates how Cozmo can say the name of the object. (See Teacher Resource 2.3)

To close teacher presentation, teacher uses case study from above video to address identifying cube 1 as “car” and cube 2 as “human.” (Teacher should show how the cubes are different but are meant to represent other objects in the world.) When Cozmo sees cube 2, he may say something like, “This area is dangerous. Please leave.”

Teacher resources:

See Teacher Resource 2.2 for a discussion of this accident as well as how AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) is different from the AI discussed.

Teacher Resource 2.3 reviews what Cozmo can and cannot “see.” Additionally, it is important to recognize the difference between seeing and recognizing, which is part of Big Idea #1 in AI K-12 education.

Check for understanding:

Why is Cozmo correctly called AI, then, and not just ‘a robot’?


How can you program Cozmo to differentiate between objects?

Guided Practice (20 minutes)

Teacher distributes AI-IN-A-BOX. Using role sheet from previous class session, students set up the AI-IN-A-BOX. Teacher may ask groups to take on new roles, or students may adopt their role from the previous class.

Teacher circulates as students also begin to program Cozmo to recognize objects.

  • Teacher should encourage students to test what can be identified and what cannot be identified.
  • Teacher can also encourage students to think of cubes as representing different objects.
  • Teacher may encourage students who move faster than other groups to also program Cube 3 as a new object.
  • For students who are more advanced, teacher may encourage the groups to program a second line of code. See Teacher Resource 2.5.

Prior to closing guided practice, students should also be introduced to “speak” function and program Cozmo to say the name of the object. See Teacher Resource 2.6.

Teacher resources:

Handout 2.1

Teacher Resource 2.4 describes a “Safety Cozmo” program that teachers may use.

Teacher Resource 2.5 assists teachers in subordinating Calypso’s rule based programming, essentially adding in conditions that follow a programming sequence.

Teacher Resource 2.6 assists in programming speech generation.

Check for understanding:

When you show Cozmo a cube, what does he do? Why does he do it?


What else might Cozmo be able to recognize?

Student Production (15 minutes)

Teacher announces that students will now solve the problem that began the class.

Teacher says, “Let’s imagine you owned this factory where the woman was killed. How can you make AI to be able to solve this problem?”

Teacher provides students with approximately 10 minutes to collaboratively produce a creative solution to the aforementioned problem.

Teacher states that the last five minutes will be presentation time, asking the speaker in the group to show what they were able to do with the recognition and speaking functions and how such AI functionalities prevent accidents.

Teacher resources:

Check for understanding:

What is necessary to program Cozmo to recognize objects?


Teacher asks, “Where in the world would AI need to recognize objects?”

Closure (5 minutes)

Teacher gathers students’ comments on where and when AI needs to recognize objects.

Check for understanding:

Have students share their thoughts.