Precisely what are NAO robots and for how long has the technology been available for use in schools?
NAO is a humanoid robot that is 58cm tall, autonomous, and fully programmable. NAO can be programmed to walk, talk, dance, listen to you, and even recognise your face. Australian schools have been using NAOs for around three years, whilst universities have been working with NAOs for much longer.
Why is it valuable for students to learn to use NAO robots?
NAO’s unique humanoid appearance and disposition offers incredible student engagement and differentiation of student learning. Learning to program with NAO fosters critical and creative thinking, computational thinking, as well as collaboration and communication amongst project groups.
What are the most common applications of NAO robots in classrooms today, and for which age groups?
NAO robots are currently being used with a wide range of age groups, from early learning through to tertiary research. At the most basic level students use an icon-based visual programming interface called Chorégraphe to create their own behaviours (or algorithms). In more advanced applications, students can code using languages such as Python, C++, or Java. Most of the programming that students undertake revolves around human-robot interactions; however, students can also create complex animations and use NAO to process data from its cameras or connect to external databases using APIs to, for example, check the weather or download emails.
How do you expect the technology to continue to evolve in the coming years?
Whilst NAO is already a highly sophisticated robot, it is just the beginning of a broader robotic revolution that is likely to fundamentally change the ways in which we work and live. Robots that resemble Robin Williams in Bicentennial Man are perhaps not as far away as we might think. However, there are more general trends of automation currently augmenting all manner of jobs. As such, it is imperative that students gain an understanding of not only what robots can do and how to program them, but also what their limitations are.
How can principals learn more about NAO robots and the potential for use in their own schools?
Currently The Brainary® is offering a limited number of complimentary 45-minute NAO robot workshops on-site for Australian schools so that principals and teachers can see first-hand how NAO engages students and helps in teaching the Australian Digital Technologies curriculum.
Based in Melbourne and founded in 2003, The Brainary® is an international distributor of educational resources covering preschool to elderly care. Its resources include assistive technology, games, books, posters, counselling programs and consulting services.