Sources: Columbia Missourian | Edited By All Things Michael
COLUMBIA — Parkade Elementary School students giggled and gasped in awe as GlaDOS the NAO robot showed off her “Thriller” dance moves, her mechanical foot tapping to the beat.
Parkade Elementary School hosted its first Hi-Tech Day on Wednesday, which brought in volunteer guest speakers and educators from the Columbia School District to teach interactive sessions that showcased technological programs and tools.
Twelve sessions took place in classrooms throughout the school, and students rotated in groups every 30 minutes. Innovations such as Google Glass, the GoPro Camera, a 3-D printer and green screen technology took center stage. One session took students back in time, teaching them about 19th century cameras.
First-graders at Parkade Elementary School wait eagerly for a demonstration showing how a GoPro camera can be used underwater during Hi-Tech Day on Wednesday. Six-year-old Journey Gaines, left, demonstrated the camera’s ability to work underwater.
But the session featuring the NAO robot by Aldebaran Robotics was the clear favorite among students.
The robot is the latest addition to Smithton Middle School’s technology department. GlaDOS, as computer technology teacher Charles Hoover affectionately refers to her, is 2 feet tall with two cameras, four microphones, two speakers, an inertial sensor and communicates via an infrared Wi-Fi voice. She is controlled via a fully programmable on-board computer.
Hoover said NAO robots are generally used at Smithton as tools for autistic students to practice their communication skills.
“We tell the computer what to do and that tells GlaDOS what to do,” Hoover explained to a class of second graders, who were eager for the teacher to stop talking and the robot to start moving.
And move, she did. GlaDOS did martial arts exercises and the dance from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. Her finale was a story from “Star Wars,” with lightsaber, R2D2 and Chewbacca sound effects.
Ruby Lopez and Keeley Fizer, both 7, said the robot was their favorite.
Alijah Fleming, 11, said he learned a lot from the session with GlaDOS.
“I learned that she has a lot of talents like playing soccer and seeing small things that we can’t see,” Fleming said.
In a computer coding session, 7-year-old Liam Perry worked with an iPad to create basic codes to move a cartoon dinosaur across the screen.
Perry said social media is his favorite type of technology.
“I’m an expert at technology,” Perry said. “I usually use math to help me with technology like real scientists do.”
He confessed he’s not sure what he wants to be when he grows up so for now, he’s collecting business cards.
Anisia Hernandez, 10, who participated in the green screen session led by Ken Koster, a teacher at Parkade Elementary, said she was a little scared at first to be on the green screen but liked it. She was projected over a video of children playing Four Square on a playground and was asked to to describe the scene.
“I felt like I was really on the news,” Hernandez said.
Principal Amy Watkins said every trimester Parkade Elementary has a school-wide celebration, and Hi-Tech Day was the event this time.
Watkins said Parkade Elementary has had a strong focus in technology for the past couple years and that she hoped Hi-Tech Day will become an annual event.
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