We celebrated two important events at the Imagination Lab today through one mega activity: the building of a robot zoo!

Today, October 11th, is the International Day of the Girl. Launched by the United Nations, this day marks an annual campaign aimed at “supporting every girl to develop her skills, enter the workforce on equal terms and reach her full potential”. This year’s theme focuses on entrepreneurship and the growing need to tackle increasing female unemployment rates around the globe – particularly due to the gender biases which are preventing women from taking certain career paths.

To add to the party, it’s also EU Code Week, a grassroots initiative which aims to bring coding and digital literacy to everybody in a fun and engaging way. Code Week celebrates creativity, problem solving and collaboration through programming and other tech activities.

So, we thought, what better way to mark both occasions than by hosting a robot coding workshop with the amazing Su Adams (Founder of U Can Too) and equip young children with the vital skills they need for the future.

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Lab Learn: Robot Zoo with U Can Too 

Accessible to everyone, Lab Learn: Robot Zoo was a beginner friendly ‘hackathon’ focussed on coding and programming, while fusing technology, science and arts.

Working in groups, children used craft materials, sensors, lights and servos to create and code their animal robot, to be showcased in the robot zoo. The goal of these animatronic animals was to delight others with unexpected animation, combining creativity, technology and humour to think of ways that the robots could move when they were interacted with.

With Su’s guidance, children learnt about coding, programming, engineering, electronics and physical prototyping whilst imagining a whacky world of robotic animals.

Challenging gender stereotypes in STEM, by working with women in technology, can have a monumental impact on the confidence and imagination of young girls and is important for young girls and boys to experience together, as Su describes:

“I believe we need to show girls that they have got a place in computing and to start by demonstrating how computing has a place in the things they already know, do and love. It is important to be creative and engaging through activities that link to the real world and to empower them to visualise themselves in roles related to computing. Robot Zoo helps girls to demonstrate that making mistakes is a learning process. At the Imagination Lab today, girls had the autonomy of space to make their own decisions, to move freely, to believe in their own abilities. We were inviting them to look at their own ideas – girls like something unique that they can stamp their mark on.”

We were thrilled to work with Su, an inspirational tech educator, to bring this workshop together.

Image from iOS (3) Image from iOS

Why is International Day of the Girl and EU Code Week important?

According to UNICEF, 600 million girls will start work in the next decade. The UN states that by the age of six, girls already consider boys more likely to show “brilliance” and more suited to “really, really smart” activities than their own gender.

At the current pace of technology, we know that the next generation will enter an unknown world, with a workforce we can’t plan for. What we know for sure however is that all our children should be able to thrive in their jobs, without gender making one iota of difference.

“Today’s generation of girls are preparing to enter a world of work that is being transformed by innovation and automation. Educated and skilled workers are in great demand, but roughly a quarter of young people – most of them female – are currently neither employed or in education or training” – United Nations

It is absolutely vital that girls gain access to life skills and personal development sessions, such as coding workshops, at an early age. Find out more about the coding workshops we run at the Imagination Lab for schools and families on our events calendar.

Lab Learn: Robot Zoo was kindly supported by Tech Trust, as part of the Meet and Code initiative.

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