Filippov Scientific Foundation Resources
- Ten Therapy Robots Designed to Help Humans
- How to Get Your Kids Interested in STEM without Force
- Why Early Childhood Science Education is Important
At the beginning of their creation, robots were viewed as useful machines designated to help humans with their physical and academic tasks, metal machines being the key word. As humanity continues their technological advancements, robots are changing too – becoming more user-friendly and less cold. Some of us even fear the machine world takeover is imminent.
Nowadays robots are increasingly being used for therapy and human companionship. We’ll take a look at 10 popular therapy robots.
1. Hasbro Joy for All Companion Pets
Toy giant Hasbro created a very realistic looking pet cat, used mostly for senior citizens, who crave a real pet feeling, but are not able to take care of a real animal. This Joy for All Companion cat looks and feels very realistic. It can’t walk, but otherwise acts like a normal cat. It has sensors, so purrs and nuzzles for cuddles when touched, mews, rolls over for petting, and falls asleep. They sell for $100 and can be chosen from three different colors.
2. Paro Robotic Seal from Japan
Paro was developed with a purpose of serving long stay hospital care patients, who can really use a pet companion, but having one would be against the rules of the facility. AIST researchers in Japan came up with this cute white baby seal concept and it is gaining popularity worldwide. The robot has sensors and memory. It remembers where it has been touched the most and will show signs of satisfaction, when that spot is petted again. It will also remember if was punished for doing something unfavorable, and won’t do that again.
Paro has been featured in some TV shows and is becoming popular. However, not everybody can afford this cute seal – it rents for $200 per month and costs $6,000 to own.
Phobot was developed in Amsterdam by a team of researchers to help kids who have trouble focusing and are suffering from fears and anxieties. The robot provides great support and teaches kids how to overcome visual and sensual triggers. Phobot is made using LEGO Mindstorms NXT kits and uses RFID sensors. It reacts with fear and runs away when it’s faced with a large object. Then after some coaxing and training with smaller entity to overcome its fear, Phobot starts getting less afraid, stops raising his eyebrows and running away in fear, and eventually learns to tolerate even larger items.
Mimicking real life situations resonates with kids who have similar problems. Phobot teaches kids step by step approach any fearsome situation and find ways to overcome every danger. It was built for a 2008 student human-robot interaction competition in Amsterdam University. Sadly, this competition winner is not available for sale.
4. Ollie the Baby Otter
Human relationships with animas have been studied extensively and the results always find the human-animal interaction beneficial emotionally and socially. Animals give us feelings of security and well- being. Playing and taking care of cats and dogs positively influences our social and mental health. This is why animal therapy is so popular and shows great results. Ollie the Baby Otter was created with a purpose of helping those suffering from various complicated diseases, such as cancer, disability, and PTSD disorder. The healing process makes great advances if the patient has an animal to cuddle and to spend time with.
Ollie the Baby Otter was created 2003 by MIT University students for a Product Engineering Process class. It has an inexpensive Raspberry computer in its brain, a motor, and is loaded with sensors, so it is intelligent and responsive. The Otter can respond to touch by hugging a hand and purring with satisfaction while being gently rubbed. Patients hold it gently and cradle the bot like a baby. While the device is made to be therapeutic and handled with care, it is actually quite tough and can waterproof.
Currently Ollie is a prototype, but its creators are working on a mass production for just $90.
5. Keepon Pro
This robot is created for children with cognitive disorders like autism and Down syndrome. These children have hard time concentrating and keeping eye contact while socializing. This bot was made by BeatBots studios in San Francisco and Sendai, Japan in 2003. Keepon has two cameras in its eyes and a microphone in its nose. When the child communicates with this device, his responses are sent to a therapist who can monitor the child’s progress without even being in the same room and causing stress.
The robot has 4 small motors that can be controlled form the distance, recognizes eye and body movement, and can dance so well that it was featured in some music videos. Besides professional Keepon version, smaller MyKeepon robot was developed for mainstream.
Japanese toy manufacturer Omron created NeCoRo cat in 2001. It is targeted for senior citizens who could benefit from an animal companion. This robot is a lap cat not made for moving, but will lie in your lap, purr when stroked, and be sad and less responsive if neglected. Unfortunately only 500 of this robot was produced, each for $1,530.
Pepper is a humanoid robot created in 2014 in France by Aldebaran Robotics Company. This robot is designed to live in people’s home and provide companionship. It is endowed with 3D cameras, ultrasound capabilities, and sensors to orientate itself in a home and to respond to owner’s voice and touch. This little machine can analyze and understand human emotions – it will positively react to laugh and will be sad if a person is frowning.
Pepper understands body language, voice variations, and even facial movements to understand its owner’s psychological well-being. The bot can connect to internet to learn new things and gather information. These days robot is not available for worldwide sale, but works as a greeter at SoftBank Mobile Stores in Japan.
8. Dream Pet Series
Video game developer Sega worked with Japanese scientists from Tohoku University’s Institute of Development, Aging, and Cancer to develop Dream Pet Series in 2007. The gaming giant wanted to make its therapeutic animals very realistic and responsive to the needs of seniors and hospital patients. The animals include dogs, kittens, chicks, a parrot, an owl, and Smile and Venus cats and are used for relaxation and comfort. Sega’s dream pets are sold for $100-$200.
9. The Hug
The Hug is a soft and responsive robotic pillow. Older people need stronger emotional contacts and support, so this CareBot is used to give them extra physical connection to other people when used during a phone call. The robot uses wireless technology, voice recognition, and delivers physical and tangible response while its users communicate with somebody on the phone. This pillow was developed by Carnegie Mellon research team to help seniors. Unfortunately the bot is not for sale and is used for academic research how robotic technology can assist intimate interaction.
Fortunately Japanese company developed very similar Hugvie in 2012 and it can be bought for $148.
Pittsburgh Company Interbots and The Sprout Fund created Popchilla and its IPad app to assist autistic kids in early learning. This puppet robot is used to teach autistic kids how to deal with their emotions, such as anger, and survive social interactions without behavioral climaxes. This cute robot acts as a connection between a child and his therapist. Popchilla helps identify child’s inner feelings and frustrations and shows a way to control those negative feelings in real world.
Every parent hopes that his kids are achieving great academic heights at school in science, math, physics, chemistry, and others. But in reality, not all students will acquire life-long interest in those subjects from school programs alone.
Parents’ influence provides the greatest support and can instill a love for learning and expanding one’s horizons through knowledge and STEM subjects.
Stem can be an acquired with time love
Many kids will respond that they have trouble with learning, understanding, and enjoying STEM subjects if they will think of them as a boring duty. However, when those subjects are introduced in a game form, kids love them completely. One good example of that is a programming activity Move the Turtle, where kids get involved and love what they are doing without realizing that they are learning technological subject. They just celebrate the fact that there won’t be a quiz on it.
Some kids might even be good at subjects and have great results, but will claim that they don’t love it. Math will never be enjoyed as much as butterflies. And while it’s ok, some kids need to become more confident in their capabilities. Children don’t have to have a hate-love relationship with their school courses – there is always a middle ground.
STEM subjects are important because they are a great path to rewarding careers. Kids might not understand, but they are the future, and as such they give us great hope. Experimenting with information and widening of our horizons through learning are much needed life skills, and it doesn’t even matter what career path will be chosen later in life.
Parents help their kids with homework, learn together with them, and can introduce STEM seamlessly through cool everyday activities and tasks. While schools and teachers are doing an absolutely amazing and crucial work introducing our kids to STEM subjects, it is in our hands to continue to immerse them deeper and expand their understanding. Kids will often show desire to learn more science and math if they will be able to self-teach and learn in real life, versus a school obligation.
Making STEM a Normal Every Day Activity
Some words have a very negative connotation in our adult life – think of taxes or house cleaning. The same thing happens with kids when they hear math or science. They are too young to know through their experience that those subjects are everywhere in their life, not just as a boring part of school. So we just need to open the door for them and show our kids where to find and enjoy them.
Cooking can provide a great platform for learning math, chemistry, food science, and biology. Best experiments are edible experiments. And all the learning happens at the comfort of home. Mental Floss has Kitchen Science Lab book that features edible experiments and provides a ton of fun while seamlessly learning. Sometimes no books are needed – just talking about boiling water, unfreezing ice, or melting butter will provide great scientific insights.
• Music and poetry lessons
Reading poetry will give similar effect as listening to music. It’s a known fact that music is closely connected to math and positively stimulates brain. So reading poetry is almost like learning math.
• Shopping and money
Everyday activities often involve money – we go to the bank, shop, calculate interest and sales tax. Involving kids with these tasks will present a great opportunity to use math in everyday life and teach them some useful concepts that will come handy in school and life.
• Activities and individual interests
Virtually any afterschool interest can be connected with science. Playing with light up cars, building blocks, creating dresses, playing music, sports, or dance all have some STEM subjects build in. The art is in noticing them.
Make it Fun and Interesting
Practicing everyday learning will be loved by kids as long as it won’t be presented as learning, so sneak it in silently all day long. We all know what activities are fun for our kids. For some it might be slime making, while others will enjoy video game creations. Whatever it is, dwell on the experience, and not the teaching aspect of it.
• Zoos and museums
Those facilities are open for all and are ready to stimulate kids’ minds and souls. Trips to science, history, art museums each provide different opportunities to learn. Zoo visits offer hands on experience with animals and biology.
• STEM Toys and games
These days we are overloaded with choices when it comes to electronics and games. There has never been easier to find STEM activities. Minecfart and Lego lovers might be future engineers and will be easily engaged in coding games from Lego or various apps. Amazon has a great selection of STEM toys and Lego WeDo 2.0 line for young programmers. Besides more modern games, some kids choose to work with old fashion physics experiments that are less costly and don’t require any special purchases. STEM subscription boxes deliver fun science and learning activities directly to your door.
• Science and technology shows
There a quite a few shows that target younger audiences and are created to teach. Bill Nye, the Science Guy on Netflix, Myth busters, How is it Made, Minuscule, Common Sense Media, and many other shows are readily available for family watching.
• Children IT and DIY assistants
Home life requires constant putting things together, reading manuals, taking things apart, and fixing broken technology. Let your child be a part of all those activities, from cleaning the vacuum cleaner to troubleshooting an unresponsive computer.
Teachers are often task with 20 or more kids in classrooms, so any activity is a mass production and is hard to tailor to individual likes and dislikes. Parents have a lot more room for creativity at home as they are only responsible for their own children with known interests and triggers. Customizing learning activities will help engage children in STEM activities, be it music, reading, or physics.
No child will be uninterested if he will see an enthusiastic parent involved in those activities with him.
Evaluation and trophies are unnecessary
Stem subjects are important and tested vigorously in our schools today. Schools are graded based on those test scores, so they focus on results and not the hands-on long lasting learning. Once the test is passed, students don’t develop lasting interest and forget what they have learned pretty fast. Instead science love they acquire long lasting fear of it and think that they can’t excel at it.
Modern girls are actively joining tech world. Our parental duty is to help them push through some initial difficulties with math and technology and explain that everything can be overcome with hard work and dedication.
Some researchers are finding that praises and recognition might be directed at wrong skills. It’s is important to support and encourage your child, but so often we compliment talent, natural abilities, and intelligence. While those capabilities are important, it is vital to emphasize the benefit of perseverance and hard work. The process itself need to be praised the most – the way child solves problems, learns from mistakes, and improves.
Mothers should start praising the process and not the result as early as a child is one year old. That will encourage child to not give up, solve problems on his own, and to progress with confidence. Those kids will benefit from such a strategy years later and will develop their own learning method.
Praises should be more hidden and can come in a form of a question or admiration of the process: “how did you manage to build that?” versus “you are so smart”.
Our goal is to facilitate interest, but not to force. Encouraging should not be confused with pressure. There is a time to learn and there is a time to back off. Too much pushing can vilify the subject and turn the child against it permanently, especially if he is not ready for some concepts. If we are raising a child who is engaged and has more joy than fear with a science project or a math puzzle, then we are on the right path in raising an intelligent and STEM capable child.
Young children are natural learners and explore their world without being told to do so. This trend can continue through life if not squashed by incorrect methods later. Children are explorers of their surrounding and should be encouraged correctly. If presented in a right way, science is nothing but fun.
Bad childhood experiences help shape our choices in life. People who claim not to like science most likely have some negative incidents associated with their learning. Bad experiences linger on with us through our life, so it is vital to educate our educators and this way prevent negative association with science in early childhood. Kids should learn through play, interactions, inquiry, exploration, and independent problem solving. On the other hand, awesome experiences stay with kids and can facilitate a lifelong love for science and desire to learn on their own.
Early childhood educators have the biggest influence on young minds and opinions. Surprisingly, children will form their attitude towards science as early as seven years old. This fact illustrates the amount of liability we place on the earliest educators. STEM subjects are especially important for young kids – it should be a must and a focus. First teachers will shape attitudes towards those subjects and will have a chance to instill a lifelong desire to learn and excel.
Early education teachers today will prepare a new generation of STEM scientists and educators, so their actions and abilities should be closely monitored and emphasized in that very important process. Many kids’ future and career will be decided in their classroom way before they will enter first and further grades. Unfortunately not everybody agrees with that and so middle and high school STEM efforts get the most financing.
There is a big difference between teachers with knowledge, information, and wisdom. Information will be gathered and then discarded. Knowledge will be called upon times of need and then forgotten. While wisdom is an infinite treasure and will be repeatedly used by students through life. This being said, our schools should strive to grow wise teachers, because intelligence will earn respect, and respect will give way for effect and influence. Only respected teachers will be able to influence how his pupil will view science and the entire knowledge acquirement experience.
If it gets to the dinner table at home, you win as teacher
Kids are bombarded with different subjects and experiences at school. They take them away with them. Negative ones are often kept to themselves and hidden. Positive, interesting, exciting learning experiences are taken away and shared at home. If your child talks about science at home – he has a great teacher and is on a right path.
Some teachers are born to teach and are great while others are good, but not memorable. Memorable teachers will be able to turn ordinary learning moments into extraordinary – the kind that are talked about at the dinner table and remembered for years. Wonder and desire to explore are closely connected with a great teacher’s ability to engage his students through fun and useful activities.
Great teachers tell us “why” and present fact in real life circumstances, while good teachers tell us how something is done and relay dry facts. Good teachers assist in learning exercises, but great teachers create unforgettable science experiments.
When we think back at our own school years we don’t remember the facts that particular teachers told us, but we sure remember the method a really great teacher used to tell us and how excited we were. Those teachers did not only relay book facts to us, but encouraged to think for ourselves, they listened to our ideas, and shared our experiences. They might have taught history or biology, but what remains in our memories is the way they made us excited.
Unfortunately not all of us had great teachers. We all definitely had good ones. Good is not bad, it’s just not exceptional.
Building bridges in science between home and school
Great science teachers use many methods to ignite students’ curiosity. They conduct experiments and create an environment that is open to questions and observations. Their demonstrations are so interesting that after them an avalanche of questions follow: students want to know how things are done and why certain outcomes arise. By asking questions they feed their natural curiosity and sense wonder, which in turn creates those unforgettable learning moments.
When it comes to home teaching and supplementing school work, a parent does not have to have a physics degree to engage his kids to become curious and explore the surroundings, learning along the way. It’s enough to show interest, be curious and observant, and ask questions about how things work. Kids will gladly join in this exploration and love every second of it.
• Parents should ask a lot questions, especially “why”. Children will engage in discussion, try to find answers, and develop critical thinking.
• Children should solve problems on their own and only then ask for help.
• Visiting your child’s school and science classes can be eye opening and give great ideas for projects at home.
• When meeting your child’s teachers, ask about the type activities they do in science classes, if they are inquiry based, hands-on. Talk about methods you have heard of that work in other schools, listen to teacher suggestions, and build a working relationship to benefit your child.
• Another way to get involved is to volunteer at your child’s science class, observe everything first hand, and maybe even help by organizing some activities yourself.
• Check and help your child with his homework. Be positive even if sometimes homework is tough.
• Don’t hurry to get rid of your child’s homework, keep the notes for future reference.
• Talk to your children about their homework; ask them to prove their answers even if everything is correct. They need to develop critical thinking and be able to prove their point of view scientifically.
• Always apply science to real life situations: talk about recycling and weather patterns.
Traditional teacher training
Continuous teacher education is very important in our ever changing modern world. However, budget cuts and travel restrictions sometimes put a stop in professional development. Fewer teachers are able to attend conferences and engage in workshops.
To answer to those limitations, some classes are going online. An increasing number of education workers choose to attend online classes to enhance their abilities. It’s just a part of our changing world. Online classes provide much needed tools to enable teachers work with students remotely and engage in communication when needed. Those class trainers are constantly devising new methods to keep learners engage remotely.
One of such teacher classes is Steve Spangler’s Virtual Science Workshop. This is how it works:
1. No travel expenses. This fun online experience is available at your home, favorite coffee place or school as long as there is internet access.
2. 6 hours of readily available fun as his classes are known for their fun and interactive format.
3. Once you sign up for the class, the needed materials will be delivered to your door to perform the same wonders as you’ll see being done during the training class. So your students will get a direct benefit from your class.
4. During this class you will be showed 30 different experiments. You will be able to get ideas about how to make your students’ learning an unforgettable experience. You will be given tools to feed their unlimited curiosity and to make your class the highlight of their day.
5. Steve Spangler’s class will help you overcome your phobias of scientific experiments and will help you become that great teacher using everyday kind of objects.