DON'T CALL them Barbie boys, but a group of African-Caribbean teenagers from inner London schools have been programming computer-controlled dolls and designing dresses for them as part of a unique summer school project.
"At first they would not touch the dolls and looked at them as if they were aliens," said Tony Sewell, who organised the event at London University's School of Oriental and African Studies. "Since then I've seen boys combing their hair and dressing them, and they're comfortable with it."
Dr Sewell said the main challenge was getting the computers to make robots inside the dolls dance in time to music.
The summer school, involving 25 14- and 15-year-olds, was run by the charity Generating Genius, which aims to raise achievement in science among African Caribbean and mixed-race boys.
Marvin Thompson, 14, from Northumberland Park Community school in Tottenham, north London, said he enjoyed the computer programming. However, he said the pink ball gown designed by another boy for his team's doll prevented it from moving properly so that all it did was spin around on the spot.