Lifestyle

Woman creates computer science doll to educate, inspire underrepresented kids

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Posted at 12:25 PM, Mar 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-10 16:31:41-05

PHOENIX, Ariz. (KNXV) — A woman invented an interactive doll to encourage underrepresented kids to learn more about computer science and inspire them to join the field.

Bukola Somide has been a software engineer for 17 years. She said she's often the only Black person or Black woman on her team.

"So I know there's a need, so I know there's a scarcity," she said.

She created the character 'Somi the Computer Scientist' to help teach computer science concepts. It started off as a storybook.

"I feel like there's a lack of relatable mentors in this field, so that's why I created this underrepresented character," Somide said.

Somide wanted to educate and entertain kids, so that's how the doll was born. Somi speaks 220 words in 12 different phrases. She explains concepts like algorithm, HTML, artificial intelligence and code.

Somide said the doll's look was also important.

"I wanted her to emulate an underrepresented child so they can see her and be inspired. I really want to shatter that mental glass ceiling that sometimes limits us when we don't see models in the field that we're interested in or not even be aware of," she said.

Somi is named after Somide's daughter, who is now 7 years old.

Somide recently teamed up with a nonprofit that will fund getting the doll and a computer science workbook to teachers for free.

This story was originally reported by Claudia Rupcich on abc15.com.