Google helps bring AI and robotics skills to Cape Town girls

  • Google has partnered with the Cape Town Science Centre to train a host of young girls in skills related to artificial intelligence and robotics.
  • The girls learned the basics of coding, an introduction to AI theory and then built and programmed their own simple robots.
  • This is all in the hopes of motivating more South African girls to pursue careers in STEM fields in the future.

Amid a company-wide push towards generative artificial intelligence (AI) products, tech giant Google has also been busy disseminating related skills and education in AI across its markets. The latest sees the Mountainview-based firm partner with the Cape Town Science Centre to do just that.

The deal struck between the search giant and the centre, a non-profit centre that seeks to improve the understanding of the sciences outside of the classroom, will see South African girls aged 10 to 13 take advantage of training in AI and robotics, directly from Google.

Training began on Wednesday, 11th October regarded as the International Day of the Girl Child. Girls converged in the centre where Google offered a course in these future-minded subjects in the hopes of bridging the gender gap that exists in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields in the country.

The 2022 national census found that while women dominate fields such as economics, business and teaching, while men dominate engineering fields.

According to UNICEF, with only 28.5 percent of young women in South Africa graduating tertiary institutions in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)-related careers, Google believes that the widening gender gap in schools must be addressed, and taking a dip into AI is a way to do this.

“The initiative will lead the participants to explore and foster their interest in potential STEM careers particularly related to AI and robotics; and will offer insights into the real-world applications of AI and robotics,” the company explains of the initiative in a statement sent to Hypertext.

“The participants would also be provided practical, interactive workshops that allow them to experiment in the captivating realm of AI and robotics.”

Training saw the group of girls engage in a range of topics, including the basics of AI, introduction to coding, and how to build and programme simple robots.

A girl learns how to build and programme a robot at the Cape Town Science Centre.

Additionally, Google made sure to showcase STEM projects from women and other girls in order to inspire those gathered about the fields, and hopefully spur their imaginations about the future. Google hopes the initiative builds confidence for STEM in the girls, and that they will be motivated to engage and dedicate themselves to these important subjects.

“It is essential to make a conscious effort to give South African girls the opportunities and support they need to develop an interest in and pursue careers in STEM. We are particularly excited with the partnership between The Cape Town Science Centre and Google, which is a promising step in bridging the gender gap in STEM,” says Theresa Ely-Felino, Coding and Robotics Manager, at Cape Town Science Centre.

“Inclusion in technology is not only a matter of equity but also a significant economic growth driver. Partnering with the Cape Town Science Centre (CTSC) is in line with Google’s commitment to support digital skills and create sustainable structures for tech education and inclusivity in South Africa”, concludes Siya Madikane, Communications and Public Affairs Manager, Google, South Africa.

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