Bold Content Case Study: Tech She Can

How we went from producing a corporate video to an award-winning e-learning series


Kids used to dream about becoming astronauts, now they’re dreaming about careers in technology and here’s why…


A few years ago we worked with UST on a corporate video. Little did we know that this relationship would lead us to working on one of the most exciting and fulfilling projects that Bold Content has had the privilege of being involved in. 

UST was an early supporter of Tech She Can, a brilliant charter set up by Sheridan Ash MBE and PwC UK to bring brand partners together to help inspire girls and young women to study technology subjects and pursue a career in tech. In 2021 Tech She Can became a charity and now partners with over 200 of the world’s leading organisations, to address the gender imbalance in the tech industry and advocate for equal opportunities for all. 

A purple box containing the text "changing the ratio of women in technology, creating a diverse future workforce and a world where tech works for all"

Tech She Can’s research concluded that more had to be done at a young age and in school to educate girls and women about technology. So that’s where we come in. 

Our client UST put us in touch with Tech She Can because they agreed to sponsor a series of animated lessons aimed at children aged 5+ to think and talk about technology and the role it plays in their lives. This e-learning series was the start of the Tech We Can initiative and was commissioned for teachers and parents to have free access to learning materials to inspire little children (with a particular focus on girls) to learn more about future careers in technology. 

Rather than teaching children coding skills, their educational focus is talking to children about roles in technology and showing them how careers are changing. Tech She Can resources get children thinking about how technology intersects with other industries and interests such as sport, health and toys, and that there are careers in technology that you can go into that combine both passions. 

Tech She Can started providing lesson plans for teachers, they then went on to offer online lessons during the pandemic for children aged 8-14, and were looking to launch a series of animated lessons for little children when we were introduced to Becky Patel, who is head of Early Education at Tech She Can. 

Despite being the underdogs against larger, more expensive animation studios or agencies, our experience in producing animated e-learning content in a hands-on way, ultimately won us the job. Our Animation Producer Hannah Webb got stuck in straight away, talking to Becky about Tech She Can and getting to grips with their key messaging and what they wanted the Tech We Can videos to achieve. 

During a call early on in the process Becky explained that, because younger children are so far away from making choices which affect their future career paths, very little resources exist to broaden their knowledge about the types of careers they could pursue when they grow up, therefore the Tech We Can animated lessons sit in a space that hardly anyone else occupies. This really inspired us because when talking to Becky we really got a sense of why it’s so valuable to get little children thinking about technology and the role it plays in their everyday lives – from the cashless card their parents use in the supermarket, to the fact that thousands of people work at Google. 

What also drew us to Tech She Can’s mission is that they are passionate about changing children’s perceptions of technology. Statistics show that a lot of girls are attracted to jobs that are more creative and are seen to do good in the world, such as becoming a nurse or a teacher, and that because many girls don’t see tech for good, it can be a barrier to considering a career in technology. As a result, Tech She Can’s goal is to show girls and young women that tech can have a positive impact on people’s lives. For example, a child might be passionate about protecting the planet so why not encourage them to think about how eco-friendly technology can be used to create a way out of the problems we face?

a photo of a school girl in a blue uniform with the text "tech we can"

When we initially came onboard, we worked with Tech She Can to create three lessons: one on VR, one on Autonomous Shopping and one on Robotics and AI. 

As the audience for these lessons would be children aged 5+, we worked with Tech She Can to ensure that we had a simplified script that didn’t use any complex language. Each lesson followed a simple pattern: to talk to children about the technology they see on a day-to-day basis, getting them to think about the role it plays in their lives, and introduce them to the idea that it’s someone’s job to make the technology work.

We knew that we had to balance our key messaging with humour to increase engagement, and ensure that the videos were fun to watch (and had plenty of poop gags!) So we wrote the first draft scripts with the intention of entertaining children whilst also educating them. After a few rounds of feedback we had locked scripts so we got working on some style frames to make sure the animations capture the imagination of primary school children. 

“The Tiki Bar is next to the swimming pool at the rear of the ship sir…”

- Barry the Robot

The characters in the lesson were due to be called ‘Katie and Tex’ based on Tech She Can’s Ambassador Katie King and the idea that Becky’s son had for a cool-robot dog to be her side-kick. To start things off, our animators produced three style frames which we used to test children’s reactions by holding focus groups to see which style they preferred. 

Giving children a chance to select their favourite characters was a sure fire way for us to make sure we were going along the right track. We got some invaluable feedback from the children which helped inform our design choices going forwards. We wanted to guarantee that  diversity would be addressed so we made sure that characters throughout the episodes would clearly come from diverse backgrounds. It was also important for the design team to give the characters enough personality to match the humorous nature of the script. 

an illustration of a girl holding a robot dog on a lead
an illustration of a girl and a robot dog looking at a VR headset
an illustration of a girl looking at a robot dog against a yellow background

Once a concept was agreed we explored the idea further, giving Katie and Tex some more detail and refining their features. 

Once Tech She Can and the key stakeholders were happy with the style frames, we got working on creating Katie and Tex’s environment. We took inspiration from a computer lab with lots of different screens that could be used in later episodes when we want to show a physical person or incorporate cutaway footage. This could also be used as a way for sponsors to feature their staff members, offices and products in the videos without it detracting from the lesson and taking kids’ attention away from the world of Katie and Tex.

an illustration of a computer lab
an illustration of a girl and a robot dog in a computer lab

The next job for us was to create storyboards so Tech She Can and UST could visualise how the animation would come to life.

Storyboards are a scene-by-scene breakdown of how the script will be played out visually.

Much like a comic book in structure, each image will depict the action happening in the frame along with a short description of what’s happening and include any simultaneous voice-over.

We produced three storyboards for Tech She Can – one for each lesson. As you can see from the following screenshots, our storyboards became more detailed as we went along, as we started to get a better understanding of who Katie and Tex are and what their world looks like. 

The first video we storyboarded was the lesson on VR. As we hadn’t signed off on our style frames quite yet, we used simple hand-drawn sketches to demonstrate to Tech She Can and UST what would happen in each frame. 

screenshot of a storyboard from an animation

Once the first storyboard was agreed, we turned to producing the storyboard for the lesson on Autonomous Shopping. As we knew a little more about what Katie and Tex would look like, we were able to produce more detailed storyboards.

storyboard from autonomous shopping animation

Then, by the time we reached storyboarding our third lesson, we could provide fully illustrated images as the style frames had been signed off and the first animation was in progress. 

example storyboard from an animation about robotics and AI

We then did a recording session where we had our in-house Director work with our voice artists who brought the characters to life. 

voiceover artists working in a recording studio

Around the same time we filmed an ambassador from the sponsor organisation UST.  This is a really important part of the process because it allows young people to see women in tech roles. It also gives them a sense of what it’s like to work in an office or corporate environment. 

There is of course the danger that this section could come across as too corporate, or outwardly commercial so we decided to do this in a lighthearted and fun way.  Firstly, instead of cutting to a full screen talking head shot, we brought the person in on a screen which is part of the animated environment. This helps to keep the viewers engaged rather than snapping from animation to video. We also interrupted the ambassador as she was eating a doughnut rather than feature a stilted corporate talking head. 

We then turned our attention to creating the animations themselves, allowing Tech She Can to provide feedback at key stages to ensure that everyone was happy before the videos were signed off and eventually published. 

The three videos were uploaded directly to Tech She Can’s website as a free resource for parents and teachers to access on-demand. 

Each video runs about 3 minutes long, covering different topics in each lesson, to get kids inspired by technology and the people who develop it. 

Due to the success of these lessons, we’ve been brought back to produce more animated lessons for the platform, as Tech She Can continues to seek out and bring on-board more corporate sponsors to make the lessons possible. 

We are so proud to play a small part in these lessons, helping children have access to free online resources that are designed to inspire them and realise that a career in technology is in their sights. 

“That one’s just pooped”

- Katie

What’s more, these brilliant lessons have been acknowledged in the 2022 Vega Digital Awards achieving two acclaimed Canopus Awards in both the Animated and Educational Video Series categories – the highest and most prestigious prize offered by IAA – which is a testament to everyone at Tech She Can and behind the scenes to make this e-learning initiative possible. 

a platinum award of a man holding a metal helmet
a platinum award of a man holding a helmet

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