Salford student, 10, stars in animation to encourage girls to enter STEM

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

Ava Roberts, from Salford, plays herself in a five-minute lesson explaining what The Cloud in a Tech We Can animation is, 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 dedicated to changing the relationship between women in technology.

“It was a new experience for me… I like that she looks like me and I liked being able to choose her name and give her mine,” Ava said.

Ava was cast as an animated version of herself (Tech She Can/Bold Content Video/PA)

“I helped pick out Ava’s dress and got to pick my favorite that the animators sent me.

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

The animation series explores different aspects of STEM with the aim of inspiring young children to think and talk about technology such as drones, robotics and artificial intelligence.

Technology can

Ava character with series regulars Katie and dog Tex (Tech She Can/Bold Content Video/PA)

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 craft a character “that represents Ava as accurately as possible.” possible”.

“Physically: his mannerisms and the way he moves and talks,” Ms Collins explained.

“We were provided with some video footage and photos of Ava in her wheelchair and asked questions about how she wanted to be shown.

“For example, Ava has a tube coming out of her nose, so we wanted to make sure Ava was happy to show it.

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

This is the first time a character with cerebral palsy has appeared in animation.

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

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


Ava recorded the episode at the University of Salford (Tech She Can/Bold Content Video/PA)

“Our Tech We Can animations are designed to encourage kids to be curious about the technology they encounter while giving them a simplified understanding of how it works,” said Becky Patel, head of initial education for Tech She Can.

“We want kids five and older 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’s very important for children to see someone they can connect with and feel represented by.

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

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

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