Tuesday, January 27, 2015

UDC 4-Hers Treated to Advanced Screening of National Geographic's Robots 3D

by Carilyne Vance

On Friday, January 23, 2015, the Washington, DC 4-H students of Calvary Christian Academy were among the first to see and review the latest offering from National Geographic Movies: Robots 3D.  Filmed with amazing cinematography and incredible 3-D special effects, this movie takes a look at innovations made in the field of robotics and how technology will improve human productivity world-wide and across the socio-economic spectrum. The film centered on the collaboration between NASA and General Motors that looked at the possibility of integrating “humanoid” robots into everyday human lives through the use of innovative engineering and design. 

The first step is deciphering how humans operate and then translating that process to the robotic subjects. The robots are programmed to “sense, plan and react,” allowing the imitation of everyday human actions. That is where the fun begins. Students were able to see how “mechanical thinking” happens. The science of human physical actions is explored; covering everything from taking steps, to controlling hand motions and understanding verbal communications, while showing what innovations have been made to bridge the gap between human activity and inanimate objects. No longer are Robots limited to simple operated controlled movements, but are now able to process myriads of programmed information in order to deduce the best possible action to take. In other words, today’s robots “think” of the best ways to accomplish the tasks at hand. 

After previewing the movie, the students from Calvary Christian Academy were asked to give their critique on everything from the look of the movie to whether or not the concepts contain within were easy to understand. The answer was a resounding “yes!”   Students were not only able to make the connection between the science used to make the robots work but also how they can help with not only large scale jobs that humans are not best suited for;  i.e. rescue efforts,  handling contaminates and working under adverse conditions, but also everyday routine activities such as housekeeping. 

The students were then asked to participate in a few engineering activities, coached by the Nat Geo Science Team, that simulated the basic methodologies outlined in the movie.  This is where the magic happened.  Not only were all of the students able to follow the concepts in the movie, but several impressed their coaches by improvising with the materials in order to expand the end functions produced. There were several "ahh-haa" moments that brought a sense of joy to the adult observers and contributed to the enthusiasm in the workshop areas. 

The Center for 4-H and Youth Development’s new partnership with National Geographic will allow 4-Hers from across the District of Columbia to beta test upcoming 2015 National Geographic projects such as Nanotechnology...The New Plastic, Deep Sea Challenge 3-D and Mysteries of the Unseen World.  What an exciting to be a 4-Her!  

For more information about the Center for 4-H and Youth Development, please click here.

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