I try to get my students excited about a range of technologies, from simple motors and wikis to solar power and macro lenses. But I never thought ‘skeletons’ would hitch a ride on my lesson plans –this soon.
This is my second year in teaching, my first as a computer and technology teacher. The STEM areas get me all fired up. But when my after-school class in Robotics was looking at a project for the FIRST Lego League competition, they –and I– bumped into a hyphenated word we never expected: exo-skeletons!
I had borrowed a book from the library, for a brainstorming session with them on humanoid Robots. This year’s FLL challenge is on Senior Solutions. The idea of a prostheticrrobotic device looked like the stuff of science fiction. Until we met Dr. Anthony Lewis.
While the programmers were at work figuring out how to get the missions done, I hooked my team’s ‘research wing’ to Dr. Lewis, using Skype, which itself is a taken-for-granted technology worth discussing in class. They had questions, and Dr. Lewis has answers that would fill a small-sized filing cabinet.
He introduced them to his research on locomotion, and teased them about something called ‘fast-twitch muscles.’ To say they are excited is an understatement. And these are 4th and 5th grade students!
Looking at how the science has developed, it’s looking more like a Walgreens product that science fiction.
For a fascinating look at how exo-skeletons work, watch this.