The Grade 9s at Diepsloot Combined School are learning to do the robot as they learn new skills in the artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics field this term.
The AI and Robotics for the Future learning experience was launched at the school on Peach Road on 2 August. Introduced by educational specialist I-Innovate in order to develop 21st-century skills in under-developed communities, the programme is sponsored by IT Service provider, Tata Consultancy Service (TCS).
TCS employees will be mentoring learner-led teams throughout the experience, both in-person and online, as they apply their new knowledge to a local or global challenge during the current school term.
“We believe that by making AI concepts exciting and accessible to today’s learners, we can help prepare and inspire tomorrow’s innovative problem-solvers,” said Trisha Crookes, the chief operating officer of I-Innovate.
“There is a growing need across industries for 21st-century skills such as problem-solving, creativity, collaboration and computational science.
“We want to introduce students to relevant and experiential new styles of learning that spark students’ passion in these subjects, and fuel that passion with real-world opportunities for their future,” said Crookes.
The children of Diepsloot Combined School and their teachers will explore advanced AI technologies such as automation, machine learning, pattern recognition and neural networks through a series of hands-on, innovation sessions. They will also be introduced to coding and robotics for the first time and will discover how to use these technologies for creative problem-solving over the three-month programme.
In honour of the launch, Scott Giles of Defttech brought along Pepper, the first humanoid robot in South Africa, to show the children what the new skills that they are learning are capable of producing. Pepper introduced herself to the watching crowd and even posed for a selfie with a few of the Diepsloot Combined learners before the children got going on their tech knowledge and were asked to build a circuit board in groups.
“[This programme] is an inspiring and highly relevant way to show children that they can make giant leaps in learning and be a real part of the solutions to some of our most pressing local and global challenges,” concluded Crookes.