Back in January, I stumbled across a video of dancing robots, from Boston Dynamics. Not only did the children in my classroom fall in love with robots and music, they have since then begged to watch this video every day. Yes, every day. On that day in January, I flipped out in the best of ways, showing children the video and saying, “Do you like robots? Do you want to make robots? You can do this!” I was not calm, I was beyond excited because I knew this was ‘one of those moments’, where teachers are presented with a great opportunity to inspire children. Boy, did I seize the moment.
This was IT, and I was leading children into engineering and technology. The difference was the music. Music is math! And that component drew children into robotics. As the days went by and we watched the video, children kept noticing something else, something more. They always paid attention, and anything ‘new’ drew in every child.
In case you haven’t seen the video, here it is:
Children wrote and decorated a big letter to Boston Dynamics to tell them how much they loved the robots, especially Spot the dog, and I included a teacher letter, telling them that their robots are inspiring future engineers and scientists.
A few weeks ago I received an email from Boston Dynamics. They said the letter from the children was very sweet, and the engineers would like to Zoom with the children and show them a live robot demonstration.
Surely, I had found the Holy Grail.
We had that Zoom with Boston Dynamics today, and it was fabulous. Children prepared questions ahead of time. More importantly, the two engineers told the children so much about robots (wires, coding, motors, size.) Every ‘how do you’ question was answered. The engineers even shared stories of when they were little and building with Legos. They talked about robots breaking a lot, and how they had to keep trying. It was very inspiring.
The children adore Spot. Unfortunately he costs $75,000. It took them at least five years to build him.
The icing on the cake is that Boston Dynamics will be featured this Sunday on the TV show “60 Minutes.” If you are in America and watch this show, please think of my classroom when they feature Boston Dynamics.
How wonderful of that company to go the extra mile to interact with your kids and answer their questions. It is good to see a tech company that has that amount of humanity, in our corporate age.
Best wishes, Pete.
I feel the same way, Pete. When they talked to the children about breaking robots, building with Legos, and trying harder, it showed their true colors.
They were amazing with the children! 😀
Absolutely amazing, Jennie. And you know that this chapter in your classroom definitely will motivate a student, or more, to follow a STEM curriculum into a career that one day may change the world for the better. Once again, great job! By the way, ill not get back on the dance floor after seeing these ‘guys’. How humbling!
Thank you, Steve. I do think that some child will be motivated to follow STEM, especially because we watch this every day. The music gives it heart. And I’ll join you watching the dance moves on the sidelines. 🙂
We get 60 minutes here in Canada and I will definitely watch! Our children need to be stimulated and what better way than by people who are doing what is ushering in our future. Kudos!
Thank you, Pam! 🙂
Your kiddos had an ‘audience’ (ZOOM) with Boston Dynamics…wow. And with real engineers, not just the marketing/public relations semi-techie guys. This is phenomenal, Jennie. As a musician with a Math degree, I have to say this ‘easy to see’ intersection of math/music/engineering makes each more relevant as a whole rather than as individual disciplines.
Yep, will be watching 60 minutes for sure.
I’m dancing with you and Spot and your kiddos!
I know!! It was the real deal, not marketing. I am still pinching myself. The best part is how the engineers related to the children. I like what you said about music and math, coming together with engineering. Boston Dynamics understands this! I asked them when we were on Zoom who picked the song. The engineers didn’t know… I sure would love to have been a fly on the wall when the song was picked.
When the children watch the video they do the moves, and they “own” certain ones. We enjoy hollering “There’s Brooke” and “Emmett, there you are” and so on. Thanks so much, Laura. Fingers crossed that 60 Minutes shows Spot dancing. 🙂
I’m with ya!
I’m so glad you reached out to them Jennie. What a wonderful experience for the munchkins!
Thanks, Kim. Writing that letter was a darned good thing! It was truly a remarkable experience for the children. 🥰
Once again I am in awe of your heroism, Jennie; educating young minds is the most noble of pursuits.
As for Spot, he’s almost as expensive to maintain as my dog, I imagine.
Aww… thank you, Hook. Those words are deeply appreciated. And, I imagine Spot’s maintenance is serious bucks. 🙂
I call it like I see it.
That was a wonderful thing for Boston Robots to do. Credit to you, Jennie and your class for initiating contact by telling them how much they meant to the children. That, too, is a valuable lesson.
They were fabulous with the children, and it was all engineering and no PR. They were ‘real’, told funny stories, and answered every question. What a gift! I will always champion letter writing with children. Oh, they remember. Eddie reminded me last week that we heard back from the robots and the Queen, but not Dr. Dolittle. Thank you, Dan.
How exciting that the children got to Zoom with the scientists! The experience of a lifetime!!!
I’m still pinching myself!
The kids’ parents must have been thrilled, too!
I hope so!
That gave me goosebumps!! It’s so cool that your classroom had a zoom chat with two of the engineers, and you inspired the call! What a wonderful teaching moment! I bet Lego sales go up and robots are heavy on the minds of the children. 🥰 Are you reading The Wild Robot to them now?
Thank you, Deborah. It was very cool!! I feel so lucky. Let’s hope Lego sales go up! I am not reading The Wild Robot to them. If they were 6 instead of 4, I would. I have recommended the kindergarten teacher read it to her class, but she sticks to The Magic Treehouse books… I’ll just leave it at that.
Amazing! Those kids are so lucky to have you as a teacher that takes initiative. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Kudos to the company as well, looking to the future by talking to young children. I’m impressed.
Many thanks, Darlene. It all started with the letter, and I only said to them that the children would love a reply. Getting a letter is fun! Who knew they would offer to Zoom and have a live demo of Spot! What a treat! You can imagine the letter the children will be writing and decorating on Monday! 🙂
You certainly do manage to organise some wonderful treat for your class, Jennie. This looks like a lot of fun for kids.
It’s amazing how one thing can grow and snowball into something wonderful. Writing and decorating that big letter back in January was all we did. Then they contacted me to have the engineers Zoom with the children. Three cheers for letter writing, and for engineers who care about kids. It was fun! Thank you, Robbie.
Those folks at Boston Dynamics are thebest. Thanks for sharing, Jennie.
They really are, John. I’m anxious to see 60 Minutes. I wish Lucy and Twiggy could play with Spot. 🙂
Oh Jennie!!! I’m over the full moon here! Just shared this with my daughter and she is enthralled with you too. You are definitely the best teacher out there. I was amazed and impressed that you took this video and ran with it for preschoolers. That’s when they really need to be exposed to this stuff. I had not seen the video but will definitely record 60 min tomorrow. I love the video too. I hope you never retire because you are so needed.
Thanks so much, Marlene! Yes, I took it and ran with it. In teacher language we call that emergent curriculum. I like your words better. 🙂 When you know something will be a great learning experience for children… go for it! I was a little nervous that the engineers might be dry or talk over the children’s heads, but they were wonderful (and so young!). I hope Spot will be on 60 Minutes. I hope I can keep on going in teaching for a few more years. 🥰
These moments don’t happen everyday in a classroom where everything seems to line up, and the result is magical for children and teacher alike. I’m so glad that you got the amazing payoff from the engineers at Boston Dynamics. Good for them for seeing the importance of reaching out to you, and completing the cycle. What a magical moment. I’ll be watching 60 Minutes and thinking of your class.
You’re right, Pete. The stars don’t always align in teaching. This was a Big Bang for the children. And it all started with a video and writing a letter.
I wish you could have seen me in the classroom when I found the video. You can appreciate the scene: It’s lunchtime and we’re all sitting and eating together (yes, I choose to eat along with the children and not take a break. Too many wonderful things happen at lunch, like the video.) I’m searching for a Safari Jeep video because we were learning about Africa. Somehow the robot video popped up. I jumped up and started yelling, asking children if they like robots and telling them they can build robots, too. I have the iPad in hand and I go from child to child as they’re eating lunch, showing them the video. I keep yelling how they can do this when they grow up. Frankly, I’m surprised another teacher didn’t come running to see what all the yelling and excitement was about. I wish you had been there at that “moment”, Pete.
I was lucky the engineers were terrific with the children! Hats off to Boston Dynamics!!
I really hope they watch 60 Minutes with their parents and tell them all about Spot. 🙂 Thank you, my friend.
I love hearing that you eat lunch with your students. I used to do that on occasion too. When I sat with them at the lunch table, you would have thought they’d all won a shopping spree to a toy store. Once a week, the Star Student (someone selected at random) chose a friend and the three of us would have lunch somewhere. It started as just a fun thing, but I’d learn so much about my students from this gesture because they often opened up in that type of setting. I let them choose where they wanted to eat on campus, and the choices were quite varied. One time a student asked if he could invite the principal instead of another child and wanted to have lunch in her office. I had a very understanding principal, and she was all for it. I lost touch with that child, but he was such a divergent thinker I imagine he’s somewhere thinking outside the box.
What a great story! I bet he is somewhere doing something remarkable. I love the divergent thinkers.
Thank you! I knew you would get it, and understand the importance of having lunch with the children. One of the first things I wrote for parents years ago was about lunchtime. I think it was also one of my first blog posts…I need to find it and maybe repost. That’s when you find out that a dog died, or what happened over the weekend. The discussions are endless, important, and intimate. It’s a mini circle time. I preach to teachers that this is when you bond with kids and really get to know them. Unfortunately it usually falls on deaf ears. But, I keep trying.
If I hadn’t been having lunch with the children, this whole robot thing never would have happened.
How super exciting, Jennie – a zoom session with the engineers. The children would have loved it, but probably not half as much as you!
It was terrific!! The only question they were unable to answer was who picked the song. 🙂
They are forgiven for that! 🙂
Jennie, this is delightful! I like to do a Guest Blog built around this post, if I may.
Hi Mitch. Thank you. Of course you can do a guest blog!
Great. Thank you!
That is soooo cool that your classroom had a zoom meeting with Boston Dynamics. I’ve watched a lot of their robot videos. (I want one that cleans my house. Lol). What a great experience for your kids. Wonderful, Jennie.
Thanks, Diana. It was so cool and I feel quite lucky.
I watched that 60 minutes episode about robots yesterday. I too was impressed. I wish I could go back and switch my education field to robotics. My son is a mechanical engineer, he now wishes he could design robots instead of HVAC systems. I’m so glad your kids were exposed early in life. I like Spot the best too.
I was impressed, too. When you name the robots, that sends a loud message that engineering is ‘cool’. Hats off to Boston Dynamics. I know what you mean about wishing that you and also your son could have designed robots. This company hires people from so many different areas. I am so happy that my class was part of this! Spot is the best.🙂 Thank you, Dayne.
Wow! What an amazing experience for the children to talk to the engineers – they will never forget this and who knows, in the years ahead some of them might return to the classroom when they are working at Boston Dynamics.😀
Thank you, Annika. From watching the robots every day, to the Zoom, to 60 Minutes, this has been wonderful for the children. Wouldn’t it be fitting for some of them to end up at Boston Dynamics, and then return to the classroom! 😀
The children are so precious 😊 I am glad you are able to give them the opportunity to talk with the engineers of Boston Dynamic Robots! So inspiring!
Wow! Thats great! Thank you for sharing, Jennie! Honestly i would have fear meeting one of them in the wilderness. 😉 Have a beautiful week! Michael
You’re welcome, Michael. In the wilderness they might be scary. Dancing, they’re not. Best to you!
Wow dancing robot very interesting 😊😍
How thoughtful of you to introduce something so complicated and yet interesting with a touch of fun and music to capture the children’s attention and introduce them to the fascinating world of robotics…and how wonderful of the Boston dynamics team to cater to the interest of these young minds…great post👍🏻🥰
Thank you so much. You are right that the combination of music and dancing makes a complicated concept interesting and fun for children. I mailed the big thank you letter yesterday. After watching 60 Minutes and realizing what a great guy the owner is, I have written to him personally to share all that happened. Way to go Boston Dynamics! I think my preschoolers will be watching that wonderful video till the last day at school. 🙂
Part 2 robots
Wonderful! Thank you so much!
Thank you, Charles!
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