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DMS students learn how to program robots

Fourth- and fifth-graders in Katrina Ercole's and Jill Zoccolillo and Maureen Manke’s classes spent the last day before the Thanksgiving break learning by not succeeding – and then trying and trying again.

Guided by Jason Clark, an instructional technology integration specialist of OCM BOCES, the students rotated through stations set up around the Driver Middle School gym. The tables held an assortment of programmable robots connected to mobile devices. Mr. Clark encouraged the students to explore and learn.

“We’re going to play, we’re going to learn and we’re going to fail. All those things are going to happen," he said. “Is failure always a bad thing? No, because with failure comes trying again and trying again.”

“Awesome!” chimed one boy.

The robot fair was organized to “expose students to programming concepts and get them excited about programming and critical thinking,” Technology Director Elena Drescher said. “This is a big part of their world.”

Students in high school technology teacher Cathy Arvantides’ programming class, meanwhile, introduced the younger students to “Alex,” a 53-centimeter-tall humanoid NAO robot that can sit, stand, walk, talk, dance, even recognize faces and voices. The district was recently able to purchase Alex with grant funds.

“It’s A.I., really,” Ms. Arvantides said, referring to artificial intelligence.

Watch the students – and robots – in action in the video below. Or follow this link

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