The future of STEM education is NAO (video)

23 Nov 2012

NAO, a humanoid robot that is helping students learn STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, has been adopted by more than 200 secondary-education institutions around the world in the past two years, NAO’s makers say.

NAO, by ALDEBARAN Robotics, is an interactive and programmable 57-centimetre tall robot that is able to ‘speak’ in up to nine languages.

Museums are also using NAO to help raise awareness of the science subjects they feature, although ALDEBARAN Robotics says NAO can also be employed in scientific research on autism and personal assistance.

The Connecticut Science Center has used NAO to promote STEM via workshops for students 6-18 years of age.

Timothy Gifford, researcher at the University of Connecticut and CEO of Movia Robotics, is a partner of the Connecticut Science Center. He says NAO has been a great tool that supports the centre’s workshops.

“(NAO) is a fully realised and implemented robot that is ready to go right out of the box,” Gifford says.

“Some students are more interested in applied robotics than in constructing a robot from a kit. NAO has provided us with an exciting tool to teach students robotics, to introduce robotics-related concepts and show how robots can be applied in the real world.”

ALDEBARAN Robotics founder and chairman Bruno Maisonnier says that with NAO in the schools, students are faced with tangible applications in innovation.

“A humanoid robot is packed with the latest technology, bringing together the most avant-garde science and techniques,” Maisonnier said.

NAO has been garnering other accolades, as well. Last October, NAO was named the best robot for education as part of the Robot Hall of Fame Competition organised by Carnegie Mellon.

Watch NAO in action here:

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic