Storm travels through Convent of the Sacred Heart hallways

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The Robotics elective’s newest member, Storm, arrives in the midst of the school year’s theme of inspiration. Molly Geisinger ’15.

The Robotics elective's newest member, Storm, arrives in the midst of the school year's theme of inspiration.  Molly Geisinger '15.
The Robotics elective’s newest member, Storm, arrives in the midst of the school year’s theme of inspiration.
Molly Geisinger ’15.

Convent of the Sacred Heart’s brand new robot took the Upper School by storm with his flawless execution of the joke of the day at morning meeting. This robot developed by Aldebran Robotics, but more commonly known as “Storm,” brings humor and a futuristic approach to the newly added robotics elective.

Storm arrives in the midst of this year’s theme of inspiration. He helps facilitate student experiences in STEAM, or, science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
“Robotics provides a hands-on platform that uses all of these disciplines,” Assistant Head of the Upper School, Mrs. Gail Casey said. “The NAO robot also provides opportunity for collaboration and creativity, and it’s a lot of fun.”
Mr. Karl Haeseler, Director of Educational Technology, who teaches the Robotics elective, notes that robotics requires skills other than just math, such as communication and imagination, all of which are important for success in multiple areas of life.
“The robot is approachable and non-threatening.  It has the potential to relate to humans and begins to blur the lines between humans and machines,” Mr. Haeseler said.
Students in the robotics elective use a program called Choreographe which allows them to drag and organize pre-coded actions into a workspace. These combinations map out Storm’s behavior and can result in a multitude of outcomes.
“The best part about teaching programming, especially robotics, is that students learn persistence and non-linear thinking, which are considerable assets in many kinds of academic pursuits,” Mr. Haeseler said.
Junior Kate Burkett added this elective to her schedule because it was unique and different. She also agreed that using Storm is her favorite part of the class.
“He has pre-programmed actions that he can do. For example, he can do the ‘Gangnam Style’ dance and one story he can tell is The Three Musketeers,” Kate said.
Aside from Storm’s function as an entertainer, he also serves as a learning instrument. Glitches, such as  unresponsiveness or failure to carry out programmed actions, do occur but these complications contribute to the students’ learning experience.
“There are sometimes errors in the codes, so we have to do a lot of troubleshooting to try and figure out why something won’t work,” Kate said.
Whether Storm brings amusement, curiosity, or occasional frustration, the Sacred Heart community is fascinated by the advances in technology Storm demonstrates and shares.
“I think this is where much of the robotics development is going, to design programs and software that can anticipate or predict needs based on non-verbal input or intuition,” Mr. Haeseler said. “Naturally I am interested in the latest in technology, especially when it comes to preparing students to succeed in a 21st century economy.”
 – Molly Geisinger, News Editor