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What a Zoo

The snake had fiery red eyes, fangs only a mother could love and it moved with a nasty slither. But the first graders who were playing with the robotic reptile on Wednesday soon learned that its menace didn’t include an ability to bite. So, of course, they put their hands in the snake’s mouth over and over again and giggled in joy at their discovery.

That was just one of the scenes in Lower School as the Upper School students in the Introduction to Robotics Class placed their mechanical animals into the cardboard habitats that the first graders had created. The day marked the culmination of the collaboration between Upper School Science Teacher John Winter’s robotics students and those in the first grade classrooms led by Kathy Lopez and Susan Arteaga.

The room was abuzz as Lower School classes visited the Robotic Zoo to see the exhibits and play with the animals, which also included a pigeon, a lion, a turtle, a condor, an elephant and a platypus. The Upper School students watched how the youngsters interacted with the robots, made of Legos, which mimicked animal behaviors.

Paige Stanton ’16 said the snake had taken about three hours to build, and the hardest part was trying to get the wires to plug into very small spaces. Jordan Smelcer ’17, who was watching the snake move back and forth across a carpet, said she was surprised how quickly the youngsters had picked up how to operate the reptile.

Jade Swisher ’16, who also worked on the snake, said she had created other robotic objects before, but this project had an extra dimension to it. “It’s more exciting in collaboration,” she said about working with her first grade partners.

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