Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Teachers Of The Future?

It appears as though there is the possibility that us old-fashioned oxygen-breathing teachers may become obsolete at some point in the future:
A walking childlike robot from Japanese automaker Honda Motor Co. is entering classrooms to help teachers demonstrate the wonders of science.

The 130-centimeter (51-inch) -tall, bubble-headed robot named Asimo has already shown it can jog, walk up stairs, wave, avoid obstacles and carry on simple conversations. It has worked as a guide in showrooms and visited schools as Honda's ambassador.

But this is the first time it's being used in science classes as part of the official school curriculum, Honda said.

In a demonstration for reporters at a Tokyo museum Wednesday, a teacher explained to students how the robot has sensors inside its body to maintain balance, and the robot displayed how it can keep its balance by tilting its body while standing on a swaying platform. A wooden figure standing next to it collapsed.

The teacher also explained to students that weight is transferred from the heel to the toe when a person walks, and moved the robot in slow motion to demonstrate.

Asimo, which is similar to the Japanese word for "foot," will help teach thousands of students at elementary and junior high schools who visit science centers in two Japanese cities as part of their education, Honda and city officials said.

Now... should the kids call this particular classroom specialist Mr. Asimo? Or would that be Mrs. Asimo? And for those of us that are not savvy in the ways of robots, how does one tell the difference?
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