Salford schoolgirl, 10, stars in animation to encourage young girls into STEM

A 10-year-old schoolgirl with cerebral palsy will star in the latest episode of an animated series designed to encourage more girls to consider a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Ava Roberts, from Salford, plays herself in a five-minute lesson explaining The Cloud in a Tech We Can animation, which is watched by thousands of primary school children across the UK.

Her character was created by the team at production company Bold Content Video for Tech She Can, a charity committed to changing the proportion of women in technology.

“It was a new experience for me…I like that he looks like me and I liked being able to choose his name and give him my own,” Ava said.

“I helped choose Ava’s outfit and chose my favorite that the animators sent.

“We had a performance in my class with popcorn and drinks! I loved.”

The animation series explores different aspects of STEM with the goal of inspiring young children to think and talk about technology like drones, robotics, and AI.

Hannah Collins, the animation and post-production producer who created Ava’s character, said she worked closely with Ava and her mother, Lyndsey Bennett, to create a character “that represents Ava as accurately as possible.”

“Physically: her gestures and how she moves and talks,” explained Ms. Collins.

“They gave us some video footage and photos of Ava in her wheelchair and we asked her questions about how she wanted it to appear.

“For example, Ava has a tube coming out of her nose, so we wanted to make sure that Ava would be happy for us to introduce this.

It is very important for children to see someone they can connect with and feel represented by.

hanna collins

“It was very important to us to make sure she was comfortable with the way she was portrayed.”

It is the first time that a character with cerebral palsy appears in the animations.

The script was written by the teams at Tech She Can and Bold Content, who provided dialogue for Ava as a lab assistant to series regulars Katie and Tex the dog.

For the voice-over, the University of Salford in Manchester was asked if they had a recording studio available, but upon learning of the project and Ava’s involvement, they offered the facilities free of charge.

“Our Tech We Can animations are designed to encourage young children to be curious about the technology they encounter by giving them a simplified understanding of how it works,” said Becky Patel, director of early education for Tech She Can.

“We want children as young as five to understand that people design and create the technology they use every day.”

Ms Collins added: “It’s really special for Ava to be involved in a project like this.”

“We all want this series to be as inclusive as possible by creating characters from different cultures and with different abilities.

“It is very important for children to see someone with whom they can connect and feel represented.

“Imagine what this will do for other young children with cerebral palsy to see someone who looks and talks just like them.”

When she finishes school, Ava said she wants to be a teacher and “use technology to support students like me.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *