CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA—As the Lego robot started driving around the classroom, 12-year-old Likhona Maginindare, who wants to be a transplant surgeon when she grows up, started jumping up and down with excitement. But when the robot’s shovel-like mechanism at the front did not lift up and move like it was supposed to Ms. Maginindare and the four other pre-teen girls in her after school science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) group were told by their teacher to go back to the board where the instructions were posted to find what they had done wrong with their coding. After a lot of concentration, conversation and giggles, the girls recoded the robot and –viola—the robot’s front end lifted up. Theirs joined the other three robots, programmed by their fellow classmates, in revving around the room bumping into each other as the girls looked on with enthusiasm.
WARSAW, POLAND--People often ask me where I’m from. And rightly so, I just started university, and non-invasive questions like these help get a conversation going. But when faced with this particular question, instead of breaking the ice, I freeze.