Technology is making a bigger and bigger impact in the classroom and this summer, RoboThespian, a robotic actor, got a summer job as a guest science teacher for a group of grade 5 and 6 students in Israel.
The YouTube video page says Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, describes RoboThespian as a robot that gestures, has facial expressions and multiple vocal effects. It was purchased by Israel's National Museum of Science, Technology and Space from British company Engineered Arts Limited back in 2010 for a Robot Zoo exhibition.
Then this month the robot was put to work, giving a live lesson to kids on the science of levers. Prof. Igor Verner of the Technion’s Department of Education in Technology and Science tells the Institute's magazine Focus, “We’ve just witnessed one of the first ever formal science lessons given by a robot.”
Focus reports PhD student Alex Polishuk told the group of the science loving kids, they were about to embark on a special experience. “This will be like a regular lesson, only the classroom and the teacher are special.”
After teaching the principles of levers RoboThespian had the kids perform their own experiments using a lever with weights. Niv Krainer, who completed a BSc in Mechanical Engineering and is now a student in the Technion’s Department of Education in Technology and Science explains, “Thespian has 24 degrees of freedom, meaning that 24 different ways can be combined to move its body. The robot is connected to a supply of compressed air which enables the simulation of muscle movement.”