YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea -- As the students watched the presentation given by Robotis, a robotics manufacturing company based in Seoul, an excited whisper ran through the crowd of over a hundred students in the Seoul American Elementary School gymnasium Feb. 28.
But, when they were told they got to 'fight' with the robots, the excitement burst.
The demonstration given by Robotis was a part of SAES' Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program, or STEM. The STEM program began last year in the United States to help educate leaders and children on important subjects, and has recently moved to DODDS to provide those opportunities to the children.
Dolores Elliott, a 2nd Grade teacher and the STEM director for SAES, said that seeing the program in action is valuable to their long-term learning. She also thanked Robotis for holding the presentation.
"To see the light in the kids eyes with what they are experiencing now, teaching them in a book cannot compare to what they're learning now," Elliott said.
Various robotic kits offered by the company were featured in action. Students lined up to control a robot sumo, which aimed to push their fellow students off a small circular stand. After each of the events, coloring was set up in the back for the students for them to show off their ideas for a robot.
After the competition, the children were given a demonstration of one of the company's main attractions, a bipedal robot called 'Chase'. He and his partner, assistant research engineer Chase Noh, showed off Chase's ability to track an object, listen and follow vocal commands and even right itself when it fell down. The children laughed as the robot followed a red ball held by Noh, and when it came time to kick, Noh got the students to yell the command.
When it came to STEM and the schools, Noh said that Robotis focuses on education, and their excitement is a good sign for him.
"Right now I'm out of words," Noh said about his experience at SAES "I've been overwhelmed with the kids' excitement. It's been very good, very positive and the kids have been great. So we're happy."
Finishing off the event was a 'battle royale' between six of the winners in the robot sumo. Three robots on each side were tasked to follow the black lines to the other side, despite lighting that threw off their sensors. The 'blue team' won all three of the rounds given, with the students assembled cheering on both sides at the top of their lungs.
The second prize winners received small robot kits from Kayla Kim, Robotis sales representative and event organizer, while the first place winners received larger models for a job well done. The kits will give them practice as they prepare for another STEM event on April 23, where they get to show off their own robotic creations for the school