Thanks to the innovations of a Seattle-based company, Double Robotics, Maddie Rarig, a bedridden sixth grader in Pennsylvania, is able to attend all her classes in real time. The 11-year-old, who is recovering from a spinal injury, was concerned about her missed classed, but is now content because she is connected to her classes via a robot that’s basically an iPad connected to a Segway. With a simple smartphone, Maddie can control the robot’s movements right from her bedroom.
Incredibly, this robotized version of Maddie not only seamlessly interacts with her teachers and classmates, but can even join group discussions. “We call the robot Maddie, because it is very much her in the classroom,” Her math teacher, Shayna Heitzelman, said. “We positioned the face of the robot where she can see everything going on in front of the class. Maddie can move closer or farther away as needed. She can turn the robot around to face the class. The thing is, and this is amazing, she has this huge grin on her face, which you can see on the robot. And the kids, her friends, love it.”
Maddie’s mother, Kristin Rarig, appeared very enthusiastic and satisfied with the new technology and said that the robot is helping her daughter “get better faster.”
Each of these robots costs about $2,100, and that is not including the cost of the iPad. If this sounds a bit expensive, it’s because the technology is still quite new. But once these robots becomes more accessible and are open to the public, it could open a whole new slew of possibilities in the classroom. This technology is relevant because it would not only help kids who cannot go to regular schools due to illness or disability and assist them in various ways and motivate them to continue their learning journey, but it could even be used when children can’t attend school due to inclement weather. Since the winter season has been particular harsh this year, robots in the classroom certainly would’ve been helpful, as it would have virtually eliminated the days school kids missed due to snow and sleet.