Robotics for Everyone


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Over Coffee® is on Thanksgiving-week hiatus. Please enjoy this rebroadcast of one of our most popular episodes of 2021.
Lisa Freed, Rebecca Attia and Anna Elzer of iRobot participate in a Zoom call.

“There’s room for everybody,” says iRobot STEM Program Manager Lisa Freed.

She’s talking about–coding a robot. And if you’ve never exactly seen yourself doing that , the programmable STEAM toy iRobot Root® might just change your mind. Because lifelong learning, technology in general, and fun, in particular, are at the core of Root

In May, we had the honor of getting to talk with Lisa, along with iRobot Learning Designer Anna Elzer and iRobot Senior Learning Designer Rebecca Attia.

The topic was creativity, as exemplified by iRobot’s Root®. As you’ll see, this is an extremely cute robot. It’s also highly accessible: designed for “ages 4 to 99”.

In addition, there’s a constantly-updated series of lessons, many of which Anna and Rebecca are designing.

And? If you’re saying, “well, a robot isn’t in the budget right now,” you can learn to program it virtually–without the robot. Here’s the link to iRobot’s coding app.

Webinars, a newsletter and a free mobile app for their “Cool Stuff Museum” also round out iRobot’s community. So does their “Ambassador Program”, which runs throughout the school year and involves educators!

And you can follow them on their social media, including Instagram, to find out more.

Lisa, Anna and Rebecca talked about their experiences, shared the story of iRobot’s Root® Coding Robot and offered a look at some exciting resources, designed for everyone!

On this edition of Over Coffee®, we cover:
  • How Lisa, Anna and Rebecca first became engaged in robotics;
  • The story of the Root® Coding Robot;
  • A look at some of the educational resources which iRobot offers;
  • Considerations involved for Anna, as she creates lessons for the Root® robot;
  • Some of her sources of creative inspiration in this process;
  • Advice for teachers who are just getting started, teaching and learning with the coding interface;
  • A look at how the robot can work, for participants of all ages;
  • How the three “Learn Levels” work;
  • Some of the arts-related activities that will get everyone coding and having fun!;
  • How iRobot is reaching out to classrooms all around the country, and reaching underserved students with coding training;
  • How the “virtual robot” works, for students who may not be able to obtain the robot at this time;
  • Some of the ways iRobot is supporting teachers, especially those new to coding;
  • Some of iRobot’s educational programs and resources (which are constantly being updated) and how to access them;
  • Some favorite creative experiences which Rebecca, Anna and Lisa had with the Root®.

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