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Thursday, December 04, 2014

Robot teacher an Australian first

"Move over R2-D2 and WALL-E, Waikiki Primary School's newest addition is a humanoid robot named Neo - the first used in a WA classroom." summarizes Elisia Seeber, The West Australian.

Waikiki Primary students Ziggy Williams and Kaysia Stalenhoef with their robot Neo. 
Photo: The West Australian 

He walks, he talks, he even does tai chi and Neo is set to revolutionise the way students learn about robotics and programming.

The school, its Parents and Citizens Association and the Rotary Club of Rockingham raised $23,000 so Waikiki could be the first school in Australia to buy a French-built Aldebaran Nao robot and its software.

Students' eyes lit up when the robot waved and introduced himself as Neo - the name the school chose as an anagram of "one" to represent its first robot.

Standing 58cm, Neo can be programmed to do many tasks including recognise voices and faces, catch small objects and dance. To interact with people, Neo has advanced movement ability, cameras as eyes, touch sensors and microphones.

The school hopes to be a leader in information and communication technology and plans to start a robotics program next year.

Having upgraded its computer lab, bought a 3-D printer and invested heavily in mobile technology, the robot was the last piece of the school's tech puzzle.

Principal Craig Stanners said the robotics initiative was not about replacing traditional teaching but to give teachers an extra tool to inspire students.

Students will learn to use Choregraphe software to make Neo speak and move and teachers can program it to demonstrate moves and repeat learning strategies.
Read more... 

Additional resources   
A team of researchers at MIT have created a 70-pound cheetah robot that can run and jump on its own power. Developers hope the mechanics behind the battery-powered animal will help in the creation of new prosthetics and other technologies. 
MIT's Cheetah Robot Runs, Leaps and Inspires

Source: The West Australian and Associated Press Channel (YouTube)