MERIDIAN, Idaho — Meridian High School special education teacher Roger Brady is teaching his students to program robots.
They program the little, round robots called Sphero BOLTS, which are about the size of a baseball, to make shapes, sounds and speech.
"The best thing about learning with the robot is that I get to learn how to program," student Gracie Ringering said.
Gracie programmed her robot to roll on the floor in a hexagon pattern and then say "Hi KTVB. Thanks for choosing me for this week's Innovative Educator segment."
Brady says the key is critical thinking.
"I kind of joke and tell them I'm kind of setting you up for failure because your programs will almost never work the first time," Brady said. "So you have to learn from your mistakes and continue to build on that to work through the problem."
That leads to confidence.
"You get to learn to be independent," student Alisyn Tate said.
"He pretty much engages us to expand on it and learn from it," Ringering said.
"I think technology is the odds evener," Brady said. "If you take somebody with a disability and give them access to information and teach them how to use that information to compete with their peers, it's going to help them in the workforce. It's going to help them feel more confident about the information they have."
Brady bought the bots by getting grants.
"The robots do create an opportunity for them to collaborate and develop those collaboration skills that are needed once they leave here," Brady said.
To keep the kids engaged he can't be a robot himself.
"Well, I have a lot of fun. I've been accused of smiling too much," Brady said.
"He's really entertaining," Tate said. "He can teach a class and I can literally stay in the room for hours."
When a teacher can hold students' attention like that success is sure to follow.
"Oh, it's the best. Because you can see it in their eyes. You can see it in their demeanor. My kids especially are not afraid to celebrate," Brady said. "My goal is they'll take these robots and do way beyond anything that I would comprehend."
Roger Brady is this week's Innovative Educator.
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