Robotics

'Robots for Everyone' – a first for Australian Public Libraries

NAO robot at Noosa Library

Noosa Library Service has become the first Australian public library to recruit a ‘NAO’ (pronounced ‘now') humanoid robot, which they have named ‘Dewey’. The fully-programmable robot’s mission is to provide fun and practical robotics and computer programming training for adults and young people. ‘Dewey’ assists the Noosa Library Service by presenting robotic demonstrations, programming workshops, cyber safety eSmart messages, storytelling and special appearances at all 3 branches of the Library Service. 

The library’s program, 'Robots for Everyone’, introduces the community to robots in a fun-filled, non-threatening environment; hopefully enticing people into further STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) related learning. “Coding has been described as a necessary language for the 21st century and a key skill for future economic success in digitally driven communities,” says Library Collections and Services Coordinator Tracey King.  “Robots for Everyone participants will learn these new skills, and then use them to bring the robot to life.” ‘Dewey’ also travels into the community, making guest appearances at schools, organisations and events ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to see 21st century robotics and learn coding.

The future of robotics at Noosa Library Service will see the creation of a Robot Club, which will provide a meeting space for like-minded people to connect and engage with innovative robotics technology.  The Noosa Library Service intend to provide training on how to operate Dewey, to organisations who work with specific groups such as children on the autism spectrum and older people with dementia. This will provide an opportunity for them to explore how ‘Dewey’ can be used to help bridge communication and learning challenges.

The 'Robots for Everyone' project has been extremely popular, with the first two workshops booking out within 48 hours and the positive response from the community continuing to grow. Dewey's key attraction is his ability to help people learn firsthand about the present day rise of robotics, whilst being so cute and appealing. Dewey the NAO robot is the latest, most high-tech and popular community and learning resource that Noosa Library Service offers.

Dewy was purchased with the help of a $18K grant through the State Library of Queensland's Technology Trendsetters 2015 funding program. 

To learn about more about the ‘Robots for Everyone’ program please contact Noosa Library Service: http://www.libraries.noosa.qld.gov.au/contact

SA schools in three-year study into merits of robots as educational tools

THEY can do the Macarena, speak foreign languages, sing and play games, but these disarmingly humanoid robots are not mere toys — they could inspire the next generation of computer programmers and help autistic children learn vital social skills.

The Association of Independent Schools of SA has bought two French NAO (pronounced “now”) robots, dubbed Thomas and P!nk, for $12,000 each.

St Peter’s College, Vineyard Lutheran School and St John’s Grammar School are the first of about 20 schools that will trial the robots in a three-year study into their educational benefits involving three interstate universities.

Murray Bridge High School has also bought a NAO which it plans to use in its disability unit.

Monica Williams, the independent school association’s digital learning expert, said the robots had various educational purposes ranging from basic games for preschoolers to conversing with foreign language learners and advanced programming for upper high school students.

Ms Williams said it was increasingly important children learned programming and the robots were an engaging way of teaching it, as their movements gave instant feedback as to whether students’ coding had worked the way they intended.

Used in RoboCup international soccer tournaments, NAOS were developed by Paris-based Aldebaran Robotics, the worldwide leader in humanoid robotics that is also working on companion robots and adult-sized assistance robots for the elderly.

Vineyard Lutheran School learning co-ordinator Stephanie Kriewaldt said independent schools would lead a second study using software that turned aids for autistic students to practise social skills, such as friendly greetings. The robots also helped calm students having “meltdowns”, she said.

St John’s Grammar School head of IT Riccardo Rosadoni said middle school students would program the NAOS for a Robots Got Talent showcase.

St Peter’s College head of technology Nick Lamont said NAOS were great language learning aids because “the pronunciation must be spot on for the robot to understand”.

Murray Bridge High disability unit manager Dr Christine Roberts-Yates said the school had bought a NAO after success with a Japanese therapeutic baby seal robot called Paro.

Independent schools association chief executive Carolyn Grantskalns said schools would investigate how Thomas and P!nk fostered “essential skills” such as critical, creative and computational thinking and collaborative problem solving.

St Peter’s Year 9 student Tom Grozev, 14, said he was “looking forward to making them do the Macarena and the chicken dance.”

Original article can be found here: 

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/sa-schools-in-three-year-study-into-merits-of-robots-as-educational-tools/story-fni6uo1m-1227256550047