Image Credit: www.BukolaSomide.com
As technology advances, the demand for educationally driven activities and inventions increase. Innovators are leaping at opportunities to introduce young minds to computer science by way of kid-friendly toys and softwares. Because of this, Nigerian inventor, Bukola Somide created “Somi”, the first computer science interactive doll.
The interactive doll, along with recently published children’s book, Somi, The Computer Scientist: Princess Can Code, were created to help introduce children to computer programming. The book tells the story of Somi, who is a bright, curious young girl with a natural curiosity for computer programming and problem solving. Designed with 12 interactive voice overs, Somi teaches computer science concepts with a positive attitude in a way children can easily comprehend. “Teaching the fundamentals of computer science is important. I believe in innovation and in order for a child to grow up and innovate, you have to have a stable foundation and a good grasp of understanding to become creative,” said Somide.
Somide was introduced to the world of computer science through a program called BRIDGE during her transition into college. There, she was reminded that people, especially minorities, aren’t truly introduced to computer programming until college. “That program was awesome because it really did expose me to programming. I was fascinated by the fact that I was able to create something that worked from scratch and I ended up loving it,” said Somide.
Lastly, Somide believes that introducing minority youth to computer science at an early age will funnel them into developmental roles that help eliminate implicit biases that exist in technology today. “People who develop softwares aren’t intentionally trying to create bias, but actually incorporate their biases unconsciously. This leads to a lack of variation and representation of people from all backgrounds,” Somide explained.