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December 18, 2019
Empowering children to succeed in the digital world… one app at a time!
By: Natacha Fort

Natacha used her coding skills to create a game to teach kids about artificial intelligence. Her app, which has been featured on Hour of Code, has already reached 175K people. With it, she’s making a difference to children’s lives around the world and preparing the next generation for the workforce of the future.

Two years ago, while I was working for Accenture in France, my manager asked me if I’d be willing to spend some time brainstorming a tutorial for the ground-breaking learning platform, code.org, which prepares young minds to learn about computer science. His idea was that, rather than teaching coding, we should create a game that introduces kids to the principles behind artificial intelligence.

I was super-excited to get involved. Code.org is a fantastic non-profit dedicated to expanding access to computer science and increasing participation by women and underrepresented minorities. Its vision is that every student, in every school, has the opportunity to learn computer science.

Code.org also organises the annual Hour of Code campaign, which works to demistify coding. Hour of Code has already engaged 15% of all students in the world, making it the largest learning event in history.

Educating Australian teachers about artificial intelligence

Educating Australian teachers about artificial intelligence

As a technology architect at Accenture, I work with artificial intelligence every day. Which is why I think it’s important that we also demystify artificial intelligence. People think it’s a big scary thing – intelligent machines that could take over the world. In fact, it’s about training a software program with data. I thought it would be great to design a game that could show kids that process in a fun way, hopefully inspiring them to learn more about, and one day work in, this cool industry and potentially have a career as rewarding as mine.

By the time I started the project, the deadline was already looming! We were creating something specifically for Hour of Code, and the event was coming up fast. I reached out to my team and people came in from different parts of Europe for a big brainstorming week. We presented our ideas to management who said they would fund the project.

It was super-hard to build the tutorial in time. But through whole-of-firm collaboration across Europe and the US – including technologists, the corporate citizenship team and designers from Fjord – we made it! And Code.org was excited to be able to offer its teachers and students something on artificial intelligence.

The tutorial was featured on Hour of Code and has proved really popular with the code.org audience, ranking in the top 10% of all the tutorials. What a fantastic team effort! People always talk about Accenture’s global network – but this was the first time I’d truly seen it in action. I’ve always been interested in technology. I was first exposed to AI when I joined Accenture in 2014 and from that point, I knew that’s where I wanted to focus my career. Creating this app was so important to me because I want kids to have the same opportunities that I did.

I moved to Australia with Accenture to work as an artificial intelligence architect a year ago – mainly because I love surfing! I’d previously been based near Nice, in the South of France, which was cool but had no waves!

Doing what I love – working by the beach!

Doing what I love – working by the beach!

Today, I’m living in Freshwater, on Sydney’s northern beaches. It’s pretty nice to be able to hit the surf before and after work. I quickly made some good friends in my team. And I’m working on really cool stuff – a human + machine platform to make diagnosis coding faster and more accurate. Slow and inaccurate coding is a massive problem in Australia’s health sector. Solving it with our platform will save hospitals tens of millions of dollars!

We also run technology hackathons for students every quarter

We also run technology hackathons for students every quarter

I’m also hoping to create more artificial intelligence tutorials. I have a bunch of ideas and I’m passionate about empowering the next generation to understand and harness technology to solve the world’s biggest problems.

Artificial intelligence is an exciting field with so much potential to improve people’s lives. It’s not as complicated as people think. It’s more about simple logic and solving problems. I encourage every teacher and parent to use code.org to introduce all kids to important technologies like artificial intelligence. Early exposure to new, cool ideas can be the catalyst that sets children on a career path they would never otherwise have considered.

Maybe one day someone who uses my app will go on to use technology to invent something that improves the way the world works and lives. And that’s an amazing thought.

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