Bradley Elementary School

Robotics Club » Nao Robots

Nao Robots

Nao Robots
By Jennifer Walleman | Staff Writer Ft Leavenworth Lamp 
 
Students in the Fort Leavenworth school district are working with two programmable robots to further promote science, technology, engineering and math education. The two 58-centimeter humanoid Nao robots, created by Aldebaran Robotics and named “Red” and “Blue” after their appearance, encourage students to be open to different ways of thinking. 
 
 The robots arrived at the district in September and are supported in part by a $17,500 donation from Northrop Grumman. After a product training for staff, the robots made their way into district schools including MacArthur and Bradley elementary schools. The built-in programming is recommended for middle school students and higher. The robots have 25 degrees of freedom for movement, two cameras, an inertial measuremen0t unit, touch sensors and four directional microphones. Through coding and computer programming, the robots can stand, sit and take other positions, recite spelling words or the Pledge of Allegiance, ask questions, wait for responses, and indicate correct answers.   
 
Sixth-graders from Bradley welcomed Red into the classroom in October. Sixth-grade Bradley teacher Katie Conn has worked with students using Red during advisory time and after school several times a week. Red is used as an extension for students interested in computer science, and was programmed to reinforce basic concepts like reading, social studies, science and math lessons. Zachary Hendrickson, MJ Jackson, Jared Miedema and James Packer, sixth-graders from Conn’s class, were chosen to program and present a game for Red they called, “Are You Smarter Than a 6th-Grader?” during a Nov. 25 school board meeting at MacArthur Elementary School. Red asked board member Lt. Col. Chris Springer several questions on topics such as Greek mythology, Earth science, ancient Mesopotamia and math. Red informed Springer when he was correct or incorrect and stated the correct answer. 
 
 Programming Red didn’t come without its challenges, Conn said. “There’s been many times that we just wanted Red to just do what we wanted,” Conn said. “‘Please, goodness, just do it,’ and he wouldn’t. We couldn’t figure it out, and so then they became the problem solvers. It really was, what can the sixth-graders do? Not what Ms. Conn knows, but what the sixth-graders know.” The students learned that it was important when typing programming for commands into Red to include commas so that when it recited sentences, the robot’s voice paused appropriately. “We know when we were growing up that a comma meant to pause when you’re speaking,” Conn said. “Sometimes I think we forget as sixth-graders, but I guarantee you these four know that a comma means to pause. That’s real life. That’s interesting. That’s something I think these four will take with them the rest of their lives.” 
 
 
By Jennifer Walleman | Staff Writer Ft Leavenworth Lamp 
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