It was an usual treat entertaining the class when the lesson focused on how seventh graders program NAO robots.
The two foot tall robots were programmed by sixth graders as an end of semester project to mimic costume wearing children on Halloween. Other routines have also been programmed.
At Demarest Middle School, the robots are part of a new robotics academic enrichment program. This is a quarterly class for students to learn and apply principles of electronics, math, and programing to make the robots perform tasks. The robots move in walking motions, and also talk.
According to science teacher Carl Quillen, the class is a study in physical computing. Students first learn about electronic circuits, and then the programming and software. In the final weeks of the semester, students apply those skills to the robots, and build demonstrations of their abilities.
“It’s taking the highest-level applications of their skills,” he said. “They’re expensive, high-end, and complicated, so I have to train them up in hardware and software before they can understand how they work.”
The two NAO robots are built by Aldebaran Robotics and have a range of functions and capabilities students can work with in the class.
“The robots are very capable,” Quillen said. “They can walk, talk, do simple motions and dance routines the children can program in.”