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School Children Given Tech-Tastic Insight into Robotics with Cardiff Met team



​Pupils at Blaenycwm School in Brynmawr learn more about Robotics with a visit from Cardiff Met staff.

Academics and a Robotics intern from Cardiff Met have visited Year 4 and 5 pupils at Blaenycwm School in Brynmawr, Blaenau Gwent, to provide insight on the fascinating 500-year history of Humanoid Robots as well as the latest technologies including Google Glass, mind readers and flying drones.

Cardiff Met staff Dr Esyin Chew, Lisa Fenn and Nigel Jones and Computer Science student Stuart Hartley, are STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Maths) ambassadors for Wales and took eRobot Dewey on their visit.

The children learnt how some of the world's latest technologies are incorporated into the most current and modern Robots, but early development actually began a surprising 500 years ago.

Senior Lecturer Dr Esyin Chew said: "We arranged the visit to try and encourage children in South Wales' Valleys to consider going to university – robotics is one of the most exciting subjects to study and perhaps not what they would normally expect of traditional University courses. We were hoping to draw their interest by showing them how technology translates to some of the most advanced equipment and how actual robots can teach, speak, and do. 

As a STEAM ambassador, I hoped to highlight advanced technologies in my eRobot Lab to inspire pupils and draw their interest in STEAM. Their feedback afterwards was amazing – some mentioned working at NASA or learning programming."

The class enjoyed trying Google Glass, which is a wearable computer shaped as glasses with an optical head-mounted display. It offers a way of accessing information in a smartphone-like hands-free format via voice activation. They also got a feel for other advanced technologies including mind readers; flying drones and 3D pen printers; which can create art not just on surfaces but also in the air.

They became mind readers by utilising Necomimi brainwave cats' ears, which are a headset motorised and controlled via a sensor on the forehead – when the sensor detected the pupil's brain producing lots of Delta waves, it assumed they were relaxed and the ears dropped downwards or perked up if Alpha waves were detected when the pupil was alert.

The explanation of brain waves was also enhanced with the NeuroSky mindwave headset being used to control a helicopter

The 24 young technologies enthusiasts from Blaenycwm School will pay a return visit to the University next week, where they will learn how to program a humanoid robot to dance or sing and represent any of the artefacts homed at National Museum Cardiff.

Lisa Fenn, a PGCE Primary Lecturer  and Tutor at Cardiff Met added: "As a primary teacher for many years, it was heart-warming to see how enthused all of the children were when given the opportunity to engage with the wide range  of new technology showcased at their school. As a result the pupils cannot wait to visit Cardiff Metropolitan University to discover what further learning opportunities await them."