Bukola Somide, and her eight-year-old daughter, Olusomi, the creators of the first-to-market African American interactive Somi, the Computer Scientist doll, are celebrating having won the 2022 ExCITE Innovation of the Year award presented by CodeCrew.
The doll helps to increase a child’s knowledge and interest in STEM.
“Having my work recognized by my peers is a great honor and it encourages me to do more to positively impact the lives of our children,” says Bukola.
Inspired by her daughter, she created the interactive Somi doll to bring change, serve a need, and excite children (especially Black girls) about learning computer science (CS).
As the founder/CEO of Innovant Technologies based in Phoenix, Ariz. Bukola believes that cultivating innovative thinking in early childhood is important to uplifting our Black community. She comments, “We live in a fast-paced digital age so we cannot afford to allow our children to be left behind. Access to relevant, quality, easy-to-understand, equitable CS education that features Black characters can inspire a child to dream big and envision new possibilities. It’s a much-needed mindset shift! We need more inventors in our community that are capable of telling our own stories, meeting our unique needs as a collective, and building a legacy of wealth that could be passed down for generations.”
Google’s 2020 Gallup findings show that educators, parents, and employers increasingly see access as a critical aspect of educational equity. Computer science skills not only make it possible for students to engage, create and innovate in an
increasingly technology-fueled society, but they also prepare them for a quickly evolving job market, where computing occupations now make up about two-thirds of projected new jobs in STEM fields. Girls are less likely than boys to see computer science as something important for them to learn, and they are less likely to express interest in pursuing careers in this area. Relatedly, parents and guardians of boys are more likely than parents and guardians of girls to encourage their child to pursue a computer science career, which suggests there are persistent gaps in perceptions and aspirations that present challenges to bridging diversity gaps in engagement, learning, and opportunities.
For over 17 years working in corporate America, Bukola was often the only Black woman on the Software Development/IT team. “We need more Black women thriving in this field but it’s necessary to stimulate their interest from the time they are in elementary school,” Bukola states.
“Somi is not just a talking doll, it’s a pertinent movement to shift the minds of our children from simply being consumers of technology to becoming innovators of it.”
Bukola’s nonprofit organization, CompSci ABC, recently partnered with another non-profit, Infosys Foundation USA, to deliver the Somi doll and books into the classrooms. The online program “Computer Science Learning Reimagined with Somi” is free for K-4 Title-I teachers – just create an account on Pathfinders Online Institute and register while supplies last. The impact in the classroom setting is already yielding good results. Teachers are saying the Somi Computer Science kit has been a great resource for their students to learn CS and noticeably, their girls have since shown increased interest in this topic.
The “Somi, the Computer Scientist®” brand of products (Somi Doll, “Princess Can Code” storybook, and “Computer Science Activity Book for Girls & Boys”) are helping underrepresented children learn the basics of Computer Science in a fun and relatable way at home and in the classroom.
Would you like to give a gift of inspiration today? To learn more and get a free “Princess Can Code” storybook, use coupon code FREESTORYBOOK2022 at SomiDoll.com.
Follow the brand on Facebook @innovanttech | IG/Twitter @innovant_tech.
This article first appeared onBlackbusiness.com.