Building Chatbots with 11 – 13 year olds
Future Day 2022
Future Day 2022
On Thursday afternoon, our founder Rhiana Spring was invited by the Canton Zürich to give two sets of workshops for 40 kids aged 11 – 13 years old identifying as girls in the framework of the Future Days 2022. The Future Days are organised annually to give girls and boys the opportunity to discover “gender a-typical jobs” (see press release below translated by Deepl for more information).
Mentoring young women and girls, especially in tech and human rights, is a core value of Spring ACT and so Rhiana gratefully accepted this invitation and instead of just talking about her career path and skills required, offered to directly build chatbots for social justice with the children. A decision that was a hit amongst the kids, as her workshop was the oversubscribed, with the most participants across the board.
Rhiana started their time together by telling her story of having taught herself to programme at the age of 17 and then going on to study international law and working around the world to defend human rights before then founding Spring ACT. Before even getting to the chatbot building, the highly engaged and curious kids had many questions about our chatbot Sophia and were eager to share that they knew people from Senegal or were even Senegal themselves.
Then it was time for action! The kids first decided which topics their chatbots were going to tackle and then split into the different groups to build chatbots tackling racism, mobbing, and climate change. Each team had sub-teams of the UX designers, human rights officers, a technical team and a team leader who coordinated between them. After managing to get passed the initial block of how to start writing the content of a chatbot, the children were enthusiastically debating which questions and answers the chatbot should discuss, which colours and name best represented the topic and quite quickly mastered the technical tools to bring the chatbot to life. The live chatbots are for their use only but we’re happy to introduce their personalities here (the kids designed everything, decided upon the name, the topic and wrote all the text of the chatbot):
How to react to racism?
What can you do about racism?
What to do about mobbing?
What actions to take about climate change?
Girls and boys broaden their professional horizons
Press release by Nationaler Zukunftstag, Thursday, 3 November 2022
Girls and boys will discover the diversity of the professional world on National Future Day on 10 November 2022. They broaden their future perspectives by not orienting themselves to stereotypical gender roles, but to their inclinations and talents.
Young people take up a profession to create a livelihood for themselves. But the choice of a particular profession is not made solely for the sake of money. A profession should contribute to the further development of one’s own talents and abilities and to self-fulfilment. This makes it all the more important to choose a profession without prejudice.
Young people in Switzerland can choose from around 250 apprenticeships. Nevertheless, they limit themselves greatly in their choice of occupation. Half of the young women choose their apprenticeship from only five professions, the young men from as many as 16. The chosen professions are strongly gender-specific; they are often based on outdated gender stereotypes.
Changing sides is at the centre
Under the motto “Changing Sides”, the Future Day shows perspectives for a modern understanding of professions and roles. It is deliberately aimed at pupils in the 5th to 7th grade. They are not yet about to make a career choice. Instead, they can explore occupational fields that match their personal inclinations and talents without prejudice. So for them, Future Day is not about getting a taste of a dream job. Instead, they explore professions that are not stereotypically associated with their gender, so that they can later decide without prejudice to enter the professional world in a way that appeals to them.
In this way, Future Day makes an important social contribution to softening rigid ideas of female and male roles. It broadens young people’s horizons and opens up perspectives – for an open career choice and for independent life plans.
What the Future Day has to offer
The Future Day consists of a basic programme and special projects for girls as well as special projects for boys. It is held on the second Thursday in November. The next Future Day will take place on Thursday, 10 November 2022.
The basic programme
In the basic programme, girls and boys are accompanied to work by a mentor. When choosing a companion, the focus is on discovering gender-atypical professions. For example, girls accompany a person from their environment who works in an occupation with a larger proportion of men. While boys accompany a person from their environment who works in an occupation with a higher proportion of women.
Special projects for girls and boys
Many companies, organisations and educational institutions run special programmes on Future Day. They invite girls and boys to discover gender-atypical fields of work.
Special projects for girls give them insights into metal and mechanical engineering, electrical and building technology, construction and engineering, carpentry or joinery, information technology, research, forestry professions, agriculture, politics and the everyday working life of a female manager.
Special projects for boys give them insights into care, health care, education, social work, veterinary medicine, the profession of hairdresser, druggist or specialist pharmacist, occupational therapy, podiatry, floristry, speech therapy, remedial education, physiotherapy, human resources and more.
Teachers are also involved
Numerous school headmasters and teachers throughout Switzerland support girls and boys in choosing a career that focuses on talents and interests. They organise theme days or weeks on gender-atypical career choices.
A day that benefits everyone
Everyone can benefit from the various offers and activities on Future Day. Young people discover career opportunities and broaden their career horizons. Companies and organisations gain future skilled workers through the promotion of young people and arouse interest in their company as well as in their occupational field.
The National Future Day is a project of the gender equality offices and commissions and the partners of the cantons AG, AR, BE, BL, BS, FR, GE, GL, GR, LU, NE, SG, SZ, TI, UR, VD, VS, ZG, ZH as well as the city of Bern, the city of Zurich and the Principality of Liechtenstein. It is financially supported by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).