THE robot revolution has begun at Kennet School – in the form of Eva.
Eva, officially named NAO and created by robotics company Aldebaran, allows pupils to see the results of their coding and programming in real-form, away from the computer screen.
Their new robotic friend features two cameras, four microphones and touch sensors to hear and recognise people around it and respond accordingly. It has the capability to recognise faces and names and respond to emotions.
Eva is named after a female robot in Disney Pixar’s WALL-E and the school’s head of IT, Mel Poyda, said that the decision for a female robot was a conscious choice to encourage girls to participate in IT and science.
“There are so few women studying robotics and engineering. It’s so important and we want more girls so the first step was getting a girl robot,” she said. “Pupils can use their developing coding skills to work with the robot, and it has numerous input and output devices, similar to a human. It allows pupils to think creatively about developing codes to work with these devices and the permutations are endless.”
And Mrs Poyda said that the teaching implications for Eva were unlimited as the robot can be programmed to teach times tables and sign language to work with special educational needs pupils. “It’s exciting that this is the beginning of something that is going to be huge,” she said.
Pupils and staff at the Stoney Lane school have been fascinated by Eva. Pupil Hannah Ellicot said: “It’s a robot but it feels like a living thing and she almost has her own personality.”
Eva is part of a £14,000 donation towards IT from parent Robert Samuels, the managing director of Technique Ltd, an Aldermaston-based company, which provides IT support to businesses.
Headmaster Paul Dick OBE said he was delighted to receive the gift of Eva and thanked Mr Samuels for his donation, which he said would enrich the educational opportunities of his pupils.
“Eva is a magnificent robot which has astonishing capabilities,” he said. “Pupils are firstly attracted by the things the robot can do, well beyond normal expectations. At a different level, there are whole issues around the robot including programming. This will help encourage those who are really interested in the more complex ideas in computing, to develop their thinking and learn new skills. The potential is really unlimited. We are so fortunate to have a cutting-edge robot, to fire the imagination of pupils and teachers alike, and give a focus for further teaching and developments.”