ITTIP Brings Robotics to Virginia Book Festival

Person kneeling on the stage with hand mic, robot and iPad.
Above: Dr. Paula Leach, introduces Dobi the robot to all participating students while author Peter Brown joins to listen in the background.

On October 19- 21, 2017, Longwood University hosted the annual Virginia Children’s Book Festival (VCBF) on campus in Farmville, Virginia. The event attracted over nine-thousand children from around the state of Virginia. The event provided numerous break-out sessions and presentations from authors and illustrators to help facilitate the love for books and reading to children. As part of the event, Longwood University’s ITTIP led a special program on Thursday and Friday of the VCBF with the author of The Wild Robot, Peter Brown. The program’s session began with Peter Brown, talking to students about the process of writing his first novel, The Wild Robot. While he had written several short picture books, this was his first novel. Since participating students had a background knowledge of The Wild Robot and the character’s adventures adapting to life with animals, ITTIP followed up the author’s talk by facilitating an outdoor activity with a variety of robots. With the help of university students, faculty, and staff volunteers, ITTIP conducted an outdoor activity where students participated  in groups around campus.  Each of the areas provided different environments, and students observed and discussed what their robot would need to adapt to that

Man standing with a device in behind a robot he is controlling.
Above: Bill Wilson, Senior Technology Engineer, ITTIP/SVRTC works with a group to learn about Dobi the robot.

environment.  The students then came inside to regroup and share the adaptations the robots from their group would need, while also learning about all of the different robots.  Dr. Paula Leach, Director of ITTIP, wrapped up the special event with an introduction of each robot on the stage. Through the projection system students were able to see close-up how each robot performed on a smooth, flat surface, unlike some of the other more challenging terrains outside (i.e. pavement, mulch, inclined areas).

Over a thousand students in the course of four sessions were able to enjoy this experience with Peter Brown and ITTIP to learn about the development and story of  Roz the robot character, and ITTIP’s robots: Dobi, Dash, littleBits R2D2, and Vernie.

We look forward to Peter Brown’s sequel, The Wild Robot Escapes, due to be available in March 2018.