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Tech of Tomorrow

Education students learn about using robots to teach

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Sphero was on the move recently in Dr. Heather Pacheco-Guffrey’s classroom.

The ball-shaped robot darted around the room, banging into furniture, bags and even people’s shoes, as students tried to control it by programming its speed and direction. Across the room, Cozmo, a small robot that uses tracks to maneuver, played games with students and several blocks. The robots are controlled through the use of iPads.

“It’s something I’d never seen before,” said student Jennifer Harkness from New Jersey. “I’m really engaged in it so I think the kids would be, too.”

Jennifer and her fellow students experimented with and the robots, and even did some coding, as part of Science and Social Studies Inquiry for the Young Child, a course designed to prepare them for student-teaching in the fall and future careers as educators in pre-K through second grade. Students rotated in small groups between different robots. They had time to explore the devices before tackling programming challenges and providing feedback on the robots and their efficacy as teaching tools.

The activity illustrates what technology is available to today’s educators and familiarizes BSU students with the ways they could use robots in their future classrooms, said Dr. Pacheco-Guffrey, an assistant professor at BSU.

“Our teacher candidates are expected to be tech savvy,” she said. “This is one way Bridgewater faculty are responding to that.”

Some young students in local elementary schools don’t have access to technology such as iPads at home, said student Shira Pascal of Attleboro.

“This gives them a way to explore coding,” she said. (Story by Brian Benson, University News)

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