Bob Barboza is an educator, STEM journalists, composer and founder of the Barboza Space Center STEM & STEAM fellowship Program and Kids Talk Radio Science. http://www.barbozaspacecenter.com/ He trains Jr. astronauts, engineers, and scientists for the “Occupy Mars Learning Adventures.” His students and interns are learning robot and satellite design, building, and repair.
Bob also teaches the Summer Barboza Space Center Fellowship Program for the Long Beach Unified School District. He has been using the NAO robot since 2013 when he realized NAO was the tool for him to get kids excited about going to Mars, “NAO has legs, hands, and it’s totally, programmable which makes it the best tool to experiment going to Mars and excite the students to learn more”
“Every time the students program the NAO Robot they feel amazed and Inspired to do more complex learning with him”. His High Schools students feel ready to work in Engineering programs, the specific projects with the robot last one week. And they really like the fact that they can program NAO and see the results immediately. “Their work is from typing to action,” Bob said. NAO is an actor in the Occupy Mars Learning Adventure simulation program.
For Bob, the educational and social impact that he has noticed is that his program is appearing at more educational and robot events, and the audience seems to enjoy the special workshops and overall experience. The impact on the community and the rest of the district has been positive. They will participate in two city events centered around letting the community get a deeper understanding of robots and how they are used in education.
Lastly, to Bob, NAO is the best experimental tool to get students around the world excited about working together and studying STEM and STEAM++ project-based learning (science, technology, engineering, visual and performing arts, mathematics, computer languages and foreign languages) as they pursue careers in the Aerospace Industry. He will continue working to interact with more kids and transform the way of learning with NAO.
Elias, the new language teacher at a Finnish primary school, has endless patience for repetition, never makes a pupil feel embarrassed for asking a question and can even do the “Gangnam Style” dance.
Elias is also a robot.
The language-teaching machine comprises a humanoid robot and mobile application, one of four robots in a pilot program at primary schools in the southern city of Tampere.
The robot is able to understand and speak 23 languages and is equipped with software that allows it to understand students’ requirements and helps it to encourage learning. In this trial however, it communicates in English, Finnish and German only.
The robot recognizes the pupil’s skill levels and adjusts its questions accordingly. It also gives feedback to teachers about a student’s possible problems.
Some of the human teachers who have worked with the technology see it as a new way to engage children in learning.
“I think in the new curriculum the main idea is to get the kids involved and get them motivated and make them active. I see Elias as one of the tools to get different kinds of practice and different kinds of activities into the classroom,” language teacher Riikka Kolunsarka told Reuters.
“In that sense I think robots and coding the robots and working with them is definitely something that is according to the new curriculum and something that we teachers need to be open minded about.”
Elias the language robot, which stands around a foot tall, is based on SoftBank’s NAO humanoid interactive companion robot, with software developed by Utelias, a developer of educational software for social robots.
The math robot — dubbed OVObot — is a small, blue machine around 10 inches high and resembles an owl, and was developed by Finnish AI Robots.
The purpose of the pilot project is to see if these robots can improve the quality of teaching, with one of the Elias robots and three of the OVObots deployed in schools. The OVObots will be trialled for one year, while the school has bought the Elias robot, so its use can continue longer.
Using robots in classrooms is not new — teaching robots have been used in the Middle East, Asia and the United States in recent years, but modern technologies such as cloud services and 3D printing are allowing smaller start-up companies to enter the sector.
“Well, it is fun, interesting and exciting and I’m a bit shocked,” pupil Abisha Jinia told Reuters, giving her verdict on Elias the language robot.
Despite their skills in language and mathematics however, the robots’ inability to maintain discipline amongst a class of primary school children means that, for the time being at least, the human teachers’ jobs are safe.
36 Student Teams Roll on to URC 2018 Finals
From a record field of 95 student teams, the University Rover Challenge (URC) has announced the 36 team finalists from 10 countries which have been selected to compete May 31 – June 2 at the Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in southern Utah. [To watch the official video announcement (produced courtesy of Protocase), please click here.]
Teams previously passed a Preliminary Design Review milestone, and most recently passed an extremely competitive System Acceptance Review milepost. Vehicles competing at the URC finals will face four extremely difficult tasks involving their Mars rovers: 1) The Extreme Retrieval and Delivery Task, 2) The Equipment Servicing Task, 3) The Autonomous Traversal Task, and 4) The Science Cache Task. These events challenge teams to design and build highly capable robotic systems able to traverse extreme and aggressive terrain, perform maintenance on critical field equipment and conduct meaningful field science.
Now in its 12th year, URC has challenged hundreds of teams and thousands of students from around the world through this unique multi-disciplinary educational event. In recent years URC’s parent organization, the Mars Society, has formed the Rover Challenge Series (RCS), which features similar competitions around the world aimed at developing the next generation of talented and ambitious leaders in engineering, science and space exploration.
The Mars Society would like to express its appreciation to URC’s primary sponsor – Protocase – for once again producing this year’s video announcement. As always, we would also like to thank Kevin Sloan, our long-time URC Director, and his staff of volunteers for all of their hard work in planning and coordinating this important scientific competition.
A full review of this year’s University Rover Challenge will be presented at the 21st Annual International Mars Society Convention (August 23-26) in Pasadena, California. Register onlinetoday to take advantage of ‘Early Bird’ ticket rates.
Pepper is a humanoid robot manufactured by SoftBank Robotics (formerly Aldebaran Robotics), which is owned by SoftBank, designed with the ability to read emotions. It was introduced in a conference on 5 June 2014, and was showcased in Softbank mobile phone stores in Japan beginning the next day. Pepper’s emotion comes from the ability to analyze expressions and voice tones.Pepper was launched in the UK in 2016 and there are currently two versions available.
The robot’s head has four microphones, two HD cameras (in the mouth and forehead), and a 3-D depth sensor (behind the eyes). There is a gyroscope in the torso and touch sensors in the head and hands. The mobile base has two sonars, six lasers, three bumper sensors, and a gyroscope.
It is able to run the existing content in the app store designed for Aldebaran’s other robot, Nao.
Pepper is not a functional robot for domestic use. Instead, Pepper is intended “to make people happy”, enhance people’s lives, facilitate relationships, have fun with people and connect people with the outside world. Pepper’s creators hope that independent developers will create new content and uses for Pepper.
Pepper is currently being used as a receptionist at several offices in the UK and is able to identify visitors with the use of facial recognition, send alerts for meeting organisers and arrange for drinks to be made. Pepper is said to be able to chat to prospective clients.
The robot has also been employed at banks and medical facilities in Japan, using applications created by Seikatsu Kakumei. and is also employed at all Hamazushi restaurants in Japan.
Teachers, engineers and scientists working at the Barboza Space Center are working on new training materials for the Nao and Pepper robots. We are getting ready to work with students with special needs. Our students with autism will be in the first round of our action research projects.
Graphic Organizers for Robot Programs
We are training our students and teachers using custom software and graphic organizers designed for the Nao and Pepper robots.
Robot Programs for Gifted and Talented Students
The STEAM++ (science, technology, engineering, visual and performing arts, mathematics, computer languages and foreign languages), the Occupy Mars Learning Adventures project-based learning and space science summer fellowships, and robot building will continue in 2018. We invite you to follow our photo essays.
Bob Barboza, Founder/Director
Barboza Space Center
Long Beach, California, USA