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Teaching Robots Invade Mesa Verde Elementary
Brandon Schut from the Stanislaus County Office of Education introduces Dash, the robot, to Kathy Richeys first grade class at Mesa Verde Elementary School. The students learned how to handle the robot, program it using simple icon commands on a tablet and navigate a maze-like obstacle course. Ric McGinnis/The News


Students at Mesa Verde Elementary School in Riverbank had to fend off an alien life form that invaded the first grade classes this past week.

Students in Mr. Perkins’ class in the morning and Kathy Richey’s class in the afternoon were visited by Brandon Schut from the Stanislaus County Office of Education, accompanied by an army of “Dash” robots on Tuesday, Sept. 29. He taught the students how to handle the four-module, three-wheeled device, to run through mazes laid out on the classroom carpet, accomplishing various goals as they went.

After some basic instruction in how to handle the devices without damaging them, the students got a chance to try out the robots. Schut also showed them the easy steps of dragging instructions for the robot from one column on a tablet to the command list to make them move and turn.

Riverbank High School teacher Jon Gianelli brought three students from his Visualization class to help as the first graders broke into groups of two or three students. After several minutes, the robot operators rotated to the next maze.

RHS students Rolando Carrillo, Saloman Reyes and Jose Lares took two or three first graders at a time, along with Gianelli, Schut and Richey, guiding them through the steps of reprogramming their robot to accomplish a different maze each time.