Nigerian-born Bukola Somide and her genius 8-year-old daughter, Olusomi recently added to the evergreen list of Nigerians making positive reverberating impact across the globe.
Remarkably, the duo are behind the first-to-market African-American interactive STEM doll called “Somi“ which earned them the 2022 ExCITE Innovation of the Year award presented by CodeCrew.
Harping on the feat, Somide said “Having my work recognized by my peers is a great honor and it encourages me to do more to positively impact the lives of our children”.
In her remarks, the Kaduna born Nigerian said she was inspired by her daughter to create the interactive Somi doll to excite children, especially Black girls, about learning Computer Science to bring change.
It is germane to note that Somi is a 14-inch doll aimed at making playtime both educational and entertaining. The doll is equipped with 12 voice-overs that help teach Computer Science concepts in a fun way and also deter cyberbullying.
It was clarified that the Somi STEM doll was designed based on the main character in Somide’s children’s storybook entitled: “Somi, The Computer Scientist: Princess Can Code”. As illustrated in the book, Somi is a curious, bright, humorous, and beautiful young girl who has a natural interest in learning Computer Programming concepts from her mom.
Bukola’s desire to know and learn more allows her to connect what she’s learning with real-life experiences. Hence, Somi’s persona was created with the aim that it will appeal to young learners who would find her relatable and want to befriend her.
Somide added that “My passion is to bring computer science awareness to underserved communities while deterring cyberbullying. I’m so excited for everyone to experience Somi, The Computer Science doll!”
The 14-inch Somi Computer Science Interactive Doll is made for everyone from the age of three. Somi has been described as a “real educational, entertaining, and inspirational tool for young learners and keepsake to celebrate milestones for young adults.”
Recall that through Innovant Technologies LLC based in Phoenix, Somide first published a children’s storybook subtitled “Princess Can Code” in 2018 which was rated five stars on Amazon.com. She also published a Computer Science Activity Book for boys and for girls and further launched “Somi Computer Science Coding Workshop” for kids.
The history maker said her vision is to create more children’s storybooks to build out the “Somi, The Computer Scientist” series, publish more Computer Science Activity books to cover more advanced concepts, and also develop a mobile application to disseminate online materials such as eBooks.
The exceptional Somide is many other things apart from software engineer – inspirational speaker, entrepreneur, author, and Project Management Professional. The Phoenix mom has been in the IT industry for almost two decades. Migrating to the United States as a teenager with her family, she first heard of Computer Science back in 10th grade. After attending a minority-based program, BRIDGE, in the summer preceding her freshman year of College, she created a working program using C-programming language.
Speaking with newsmen, Somide said “I was in awe and loved the critical thinking aspect of coding. That was my AHA moment to continue pursuing a degree in Computer Science”.
Harping on her experience in tech, she said “I was always the only Black woman on the Software Development team. My innate confidence helped me to thrive in this male-dominated industry. I was confident enough to speak up when needed.”
She holds a Bachelor degree in Computer Science, Master’s degree in Technology Management as well as a Project Management Professional (PMP) certificate.
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