Over the last 15 weeks, more than 150 Grade 9 students from Diepsloot Combined School have participated in the ‘AI & Robotics for the Future’ programme, using complex Artificial Intelligence concepts to create solutions to existing challenges in their community.
Made possible by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in South Africa and next-generation educational specialist, I-Innovate, the ‘AI & Robotics for the Future’ programme came to a close last week when students showcased prototypes of their innovative solutions.
Over the course of the programme, students have learned about AI and technology concepts such as:
- Creating and conducting electricity to power machines
- Building safe-stopping robots for workplace safety
- Creating artificial neural networks using AI to classify information
- Developing parallel processing machines to process big data
With a new knowledge and understanding of what is possible with technology, the students set to the streets of Diepsloot to identify problems that can be solved using innovative thinking and technology.
The programme culminated in a final competition where students showcased prototypes of their AI innovations.
These prototypes included a crime-stopping robot; a robot to clean the streets and sort recycling; a solar-powered generator to power homes and appliances; a water-purifying robot; a cellphone controlled housekeeping robot, that can even help kids with their reading homework and a solar-powered cooking pot.
“It was great to see that after only 15 weeks of learning introductory AI and robotic skills, students were able to create relevant and innovative solutions to challenges in their communities and it was very rewarding for our team to be able to work alongside them to bring their ideas to life”, says TCS South Africa HR Head, Nikhil Dabhole.
Feedback from the students was overwhelmingly inspiring, demonstrating their resilience and creativity during the collaborative process.
According to one of the students, “It was not always easy, we failed sometimes and things didn’t work but when we worked together in our team and kept trying to change the way we did things, we found a solution and it worked!”
Lead science teacher, Nkateko Machumele says: “Programmes likes these open the minds of the learners because it enables them to think out of the box. They are able to think above their current situation to find long-lasting solutions to the community’s problems.”
I-Innovate CEO, Trisha Crookes says “Children are naturally innovative. Watching creativity spark in each student as they explore new concepts and apply them to real-life problems with such confidence, is a true privilege. This kind of innovative thinking is our future and I can’t wait to see these students change the world.”
Having previously connected Cape Town schools to the International Space Station and KwaZulu-Natal schools to AI and science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) programmes, I-Innovate continues to bring global thinking and 21st Century experiential learning to schools and communities across South Africa.