A mother and daughter recently wrote their names in history books of Black tech innovators. Bukola Somide and her 8-year-old daughter, Olusomi, are behind the first-to-market African-American interactive STEM doll called “Somi“.
The duo recently won the 2022 ExCITE Innovation of the Year award presented by CodeCrew. “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,” said Somide, according to Black Business.
Bukola, born in Kaduna, Nigeria, was inspired by her daughter to create the interactive Somi doll to excite children, especially Black girls, about learning Computer Science to bring change. 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.
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.
Her 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.
“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!” Somide said.
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.”
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.
Somide’s 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.
Apart from being a software engineer, Somide is an 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.
“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,” she told Urban Geeks. “I was always the only Black woman on the Software Development team,” she said of her experience in tech. “My innate confidence helped me to thrive in this male-dominated industry. I was confident enough to speak up when needed.”
Somide has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Maryland, College Park and also holds a Master’s degree in Technology Management from UMUC as well as a Project Management Professional (PMP) certificate from PMI.