CT Science Centre partners with Google to train young girls on AI and Robotics

The training programme - targeted at 10-13-year-olds, covered a range of topics, including the basics of AI, an introduction to coding, and how to build simple robots.

Google has partnered with the Cape Town Science Centre to train young South African girls on AI and Robotics. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG – The Cape Town Science Centre has partnered with Google South Africa to train young girls on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics.

This is in the hopes of inculcating an interest in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), and subsequently bridging the gender gap.

The training, held on the International Day of the Girl Child, on 11 October was aimed at 10 to 13-year-olds, with little to no prior exposure to AI and Robotics.

“The girls who attended are coming of age in an era defined by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where proficiency in Robotics, AI, and coding will become prerequisites for many careers they might want to pursue,” said Coding and Robotics Manager at Cape Town Science Centre, Theresa Ely-Felino.

The training programme covered a range of topics, including the basics of AI, an introduction to coding, and how to build and programme simple robots.

Additionally, STEM projects from other young girls were also showcased to inspire the participants, with sessions on STEM career guidance.

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“Possessing these skills will provide them with a significant advantage in securing future jobs that are in high demand and require innovation and problem-solving skills,” said Ely-Felino to Eyewitness News.

According to UNICEF, with only 28.5% of young women in South Africa graduating from tertiary institutions in STEM-related careers, the widening gender gap in schools must be addressed.

And to help bridge the gap, a focus on Mathematics is important as the subject is a necessity for AI and Robotics.

“It is important for learners to have a solid foundation in Mathematics, as it would be difficult to understand the underlying principles of robotics. Instead of avoiding Math as some students do, we should focus on helping learners improve their mathematical skills through innovative methods," said Ely-Felino.

The coding manager also spoke on the importance of fostering inclusivity and thus ensuring that such programmes are as widely accessible as possible.

“To make this possible, we extended invitations to girls from a deaf school to participate in our event, and we made certain that an interpreter was available to facilitate communication during each workshop.”