District Home

The future Is NAO

posted: Mon, Feb 20th, 2017

Riley Battifarano & Michael Cericola work on programming a NAO robot

The future is NAO

NAO (pronounced "now") humanoid robots on loan from the high school recently helped MOMS students learn about robotics and computer programming. Under the guidance of David Eisenberg, the school's library/media specialist who has an extensive background in information technology, two groups of students explored the various capabilities of the 24-inch-tall articulating robots and the computer coding that makes them tick. 

Students in Karen LaValley's character education class incorporated a NAO robot as a character in a short video about bullying. The sixth-graders used a laptop to program the robot through a graphical drag-and-drop interface, controlling speech as well as hand and leg movements. 

The video told the story of a bullied robot, ridiculed in a class of human students because he is different, and the verbal and physical reactions he displayed. The robot responded to verbal cues from the carbon-life-form actors, and through speech and physical movement displayed emotions such as the anguish of being bullied, as well as the joy at being accepted back into his peer group.

The same drag-and-drop software that the character education students used to tell the robot to jump, stand, wave, and speak was employed in a different way by about two dozen students in the school's ASPIRE program for gifted and talented students.  With the goal to train the robot to perform highly complex interactions, ASPIRE students have been printing out, studying, and rewriting the actual lines of the NAO robot’s internal computer code which is written in Python. Python is a programming language currently used by Google, NASA, and Wikipedia for web development and machine learning.

"The kids were captivated by Python and the robots," said Mr. Eisenberg. "Using a sophisticated machine like this allows kids to see and understand exactly what the lines of code do and how to employ them. It helped them sink their teeth into computer programming that is actually advanced high-school-level or even college-level material."

The robots were at MOMS for about eight weeks and were recently returned for use at the high school. The middle school will be getting its own within the next two months, however. Among Mr. Eisenberg's goals for the remainder of the school year will be to help students program the robots to play soccer and also to help foreign language students program the robots to converse in French.

Mount Olive Middle School
160 Wolfe Road Budd Lake, NJ 07828
Questions or Feedback click here
Phone: 973.691.4006 Fax: 973.691.4029

Custom Website Design By JAM Graphics NJ