Learners innovate

2018-06-26 06:01
Trisha Crookes, I-Innovate’s CEO, was present to guide the learners through the programme  PHOTOS: AISHAH CASSIEM

Trisha Crookes, I-Innovate’s CEO, was present to guide the learners through the programme PHOTOS: AISHAH CASSIEM

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It was all fun and excitement for the grades 3 to 7 learners at Heideveld Primary School on Tuesday morning (19 June), as they took part in the AI Family Challenge – a three-day initiative focusing on the world of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The public school in Waaihoek Road is an official beneficiary of the programme, and is one of three lucky schools in South Africa to embark on the technology project.

The AI programme forms part of the activities of I-Innovate, a Ste(a)m educational specialist, which aims to bring opportunities to learners at schools in underprivileged communities and to develop the skills that are needed in the digital age.

Learners were placed into groups of four to five on the day, with a teacher and parents on hand to guide them through the various activities­.

Building a live circuit and a robot from scratch were among the many tasks done during day one of the three-day programme­.

The materials used for each module were provided by the organisation leading the challenge.

Trisha Crookes, I-Innovate’s CEO, was also present to provide learners and teachers with a step-by-step guide on how to create good and strong modules.

“With these hands-on design challenges, we make complex AI concepts accessible to children and their families.

“Learners create their first robots while learning the building blocks of computer science and AI,” she explains­.

“Parents and teachers have been inspired by this new way of learning and can see a new level of excitement for learning in their children.

“More importantly, over the course of the challenge, participants develop a learner mindset that gives them a lifelong ability to innovate and problem-solve.”

The programme is set to follow additional events in the Mother City over the next six months.

It is run is in partnership with USA developer, Curiosity Machine, and local non-profit organisation, the Sakhikamva Foundation, to bring the concept to more than 20 000 learners in poor communities across the world.

“Our partner, the Sakhikamva Foundation, developed the relationship with Heideveld Primary, which is in an underserved area. The principal and teachers at the school have an incredible passion and hunger to bring new hands-on programmes to their kids to prepare them for the future. We also had two teachers from Khayelitsha at the programme to learn how to implement it in their schools too.”

Crookes says the challenging curriculum is experiential and hands-on so that vital digital age skills such as computational thinking, electrical engineering, mobile computing and robotics can be developed in a fun and interactive learning environment.

Learners, teachers and family members are also able to explore the fascinating facets of technologies such as machine learning, speech recognition, prediction models, autonomous vehicles, virtual reality and neural networks through the programme.

“As learners understand and apply AI concepts, they are inspired to use them to find solutions to pressing community problems when it comes to food, agriculture, health, transportation and energy.

“The approach to mastering the series of design challenges presented is aimed at igniting creativity, problem-solving, collaboration and innovation. The learning experience fosters a strong and valuable sense of empowerment, confidence and inclusion in the learners.

“We hope to expand the programme to more schools in the Western Cape and throughout the country, and will rely on funding from grants and corporate sponsorship in order to do so,” adds Crooks.

For more information about I-Innovate and their programmes, visit www.i-can-innovate.com.

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