A Robot for Riley

A Robot for Riley

 

The most amazing use of technology this year was the robot that went to classes for a Rider High School student

 

Riley robot

 

 

In January, Rider High School sophomore Riley Pruit found herself homebound because of an injury. But the injury didn’t keep her isolated at home for long thanks to a creative solution: She programmed a robotic “self” that could go to her classes for her.

 

The robot, called Vegos, is a slim, nearly four-foot-tall white robot on wheels that looks like some sort of Dyson fan. Riley’s face is projected live on the robot’s TV-like screen. With a little help, the robot wheels into each of her classrooms and positions itself among the other students. From home, Riley can move and position the robot to face the teacher or classmates. She can hear all that’s going on in her class, and she can participate, too.

 

How did Riley come up with such a great solution? Actually, it was her mother’s doing. Here, Communications Specialist Ann Work Goodrich talks to Riley’s mother, Xochitl Pruit, about this unique fix.

 

Q: How did you know about the availability of this robot?

A:  One day I was at Region 9 Education Center, where I work as the College and Career Pathway Navigator for Adult Education. It was a Saturday. I was working on a project, and I saw Vegos stroll by. It was just going down the hallway. I followed Vegos into Mike Campbell’s office.  I learned that Region 9 has two of them. We loan them out to families who need them. The last family who used it was a boy who couldn’t attend his classes because he had an autoimmune disorder.

 

I asked if one of the robots would be available for my daughter to use. They said yes. There is no cost. It’s part of the Education Service agreement that WFISD has with Region 9.

 

Q: Does she like using the robot?

A: Yes, she likes it. She renamed the robot, “Evie.”  It allows her to keep up with four of her core classes. She would rather be in school. But Evie keeps her connected to school. It’s been instrumental in helping her catch up and keep her up to date.

 

She’s very social, so this is not the same. But it’s better than the alternative.

 

Q: The robot is programmed to go to her classes. Is there anything that it is unable to do for her?

A:   She operates Evie through the Internet, and the Internet connections are poor in Rider hallways. Also, the robot can’t do stairs, so it needs some help there. Mr. Willis Norton and Monique Harris from Community in Schools help get the robot to her classes. The robot is docked every day in Mr. Norton’s room to get charged up.

 

 

Q: How do things work on your daughter’s end?

A: It gives her structure to her day. Just like any other student, she has to get up and get ready for school. She gets up, puts on her makeup, and at 8:33 a.m., she is logging in to her laptop and turning on Evie.

 

Q: How do you feel about it?

A: We hope that word gets out about it for the education piece of it. It’s so important for kids to be part of school. For those who can’t, this is a good thing. It’s about technology working for them. As a parent, I’m thrilled because she’s in the classroom again.