2020 Uw Robotics Lab Hero

Middle School

Robots Wow Sixth Graders

All Northwest School sixth grade students ventured to the University of Washington’s (UW) Robotics Lab to interact with and observe the capabilities of modern robots on Wednesday, Jan. 8.

“You hear about robots and the things they can do,” says Frankie D. ‘26. “It was the coolest thing to actually control the robot, or to watch the robot work when it was automated.”

The team at the UW Robotics Lab showcased two robots. One robot used motion-capture technology on a pair of chopsticks, which students could operate to control a robot arm. Another robot was programmed to identify various fruits, pick the fruits up with a fork, and deliver the food into a person’s mouth.

Students also had the opportunity to meet with the UW Robotics Team, who demonstrated their lunar rover and spoke with the sixth graders about how they became interested in computer science.

The field trip was a unique opportunity created by a Northwest parent. Throughout much of the year, 6th graders have and will engage in coding and engineering projects. Earlier in the year, students participated in the Hour of Code and created simple machines. Later this year, students will code using the Makey Makey invention kits.

Although the machines witnessed were anything but simple, 6th grade science teacher Erica Bergamini says the visit helped enlighten students to the wide range of the more practical tasks robots can accomplish.

“What I liked about the robots we saw was they were all designed for assistance,” says Erica. “They had a problem they were trying to solve to help give people more independence. It is powerful to see that in action.”