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Artificial intelligence

Artificial Intelligence


Mathematics and Statistics

Curriculum level


Overview of unit

This unit will give students the opportunity to explore artificial intelligence; specifically how algorithms are used to model the decision making process, and how computers can to be programmed to carry out the algorithm.

This unit focuses on developing logic and reasoning in a mathematics context, and extending this to create different algorithms to map out thinking processes. Students will work through activities to explore and learn more about algorithms, culminating in the creation of a basic program to model the “20 questions” game in a mathematical context.

Teachers notes

Self-contained learning sessions that will need to be done sequentially but could have time gaps between them (and open for students to continue exploring from the initial ideas), and some could be skipped to move earlier to the computer programming learning sessions.

To set up an Excel worksheet to run Macros (Excel 2007 and later):

  • Security level: You will need to allow Excel to run Macros. The security level will need to be set to at least Medium, which allows you to choose whether to run a Macro on a Excel spread sheet or not. A yellow band will show at the top of the Excel spread sheet, and this needs to be selected as “Yes” to allow any of the programs to run.
  • Developer tab: You will need to show the Developer tab so students can “view code”. You will need to click on File -> Options -> Customise ribbon and then check the box beside “Developer” on the right hand side.

Learning more: If students click on the “record macro” button and then do something in Excel, the program will record the code needed to do this (most of the time). The students can then learn how to modify things like font colour, shading etc.

Learning Outcomes

  • Classify numbers and shapes using different criteria
  • Use logic to determine steps to take in a problem solving task
  • Design algorithms to model a decision making process
  • Use basic VBA programming skills to run programs in Microsoft Excel

Gifted education focus

(How does this unit cater for gifted students?)

There are many opportunities throughout the unit for students to explore the skills or strategies introduced and to be creative about finding other solutions to problems. The focus is on thinking processes, in particular modelling human decision making, and developing efficient strategies to determine solutions.

Aspects of the unit can be made more complex to provide additional challenge if needed. Students could also apply the skills or approaches learned in this unit to create other algorithms and corresponding computer programs, for example, finding the highest common factor of two numbers.

Learning sessions

PDF icon. Learning Session One - 20 questions (PDF, 258 KB)
PDF icon. Learning Session Two - Algorithims (PDF, 133 KB)
PDF icon. Learning Session Three - Battleships (PDF, 288 KB)
PDF icon. Learning Session Four - Finding shapes (PDF, 176 KB)

PDF icon. Learning Session Five - Finding Shape Algorithm (PDF, 309 KB)

Assessment for learning and evaluation

Assessment of the learning outcomes for this unit can be completed by:

  • observation of student discussion around decision making processes, in particular their use of logic and reasoning to create efficient algorithms
  • evaluating the algorithms that are developed and discussing particular features of their design with students
  • student’s success at modifying given code for programs to satisfy a new condition/scenario posed.

Resources to complement this unit

Unit prepared by

Anna Martin