Numerous technology ventures aim to improve students’ scores in an increasingly test-focused educational landscape. Challenging that, the innovators behind the Robot Heart Stories project hope that modern technology can spark students’ imagination, fueling the resources needed to inspire better scores: creativity and passion.
Starting Monday, October 17, two classrooms of students –one in Montreal and one in Los Angeles — must work together to return a lost robot to its home in Outer Space (actually, Los Angeles) by October 28. The classes will work together, sending clues to one another as they guide the robot from its “crash-landing” in Montreal to the classroom in Los Angeles. The students will combine creative writing, geography, math, and science and more in trying to navigate the robot home. Wherever their minds take the robot, filmmakers and photographers will follow, documenting the robot’s struggle as it travels across North America. Upon completion, the robot will board an actual rocket with a camera, allowing students and viewers across the world to watch its journey home. The creators hope that the students will come away in awe of just how far technology, creativity, and imagination can travel.
Lance Weiler, the creator, aims to spark innovation and creativity by making it relevant to kids’ lives. Rather than isolating students, technology will unite them, sparking a fire of collaboration and imagination. Weiler used crowd-sourced investments to fuel his project, but believes that teachers globally have the resources to make education relevant.
Individuals can follow the robot’s journey via photographs, which will later be transformed into an illustrated story based on the students’ writings. More information is available at http://robotheartstories.com. Additionally, viewers are invited to download a “heart pack” that can be folded into a robot. For every 1,000 photos uploaded of the robot, Weiler’s team will make a donation to organizations supporting creative writing in schools.
Where would your robot travel? Stay tuned for more coverage of the project as the robot makes its way from Canada to California!
Allison Mishkin is an assistant web producer at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center this fall. A recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with an individualized degree in the Social Implications of Computer Science, she is interested in the intersections between technology and children’s media. Previously, she has conducted research on young girls and STEM education, youth interaction in online communities and worked as a Google Policy Fellow on telecommunications policy.