by Roni Singleton

Pepper’s visit was the first for The Queen City

February 06, 2018

Show and tell hit an all new high for students at West Charlotte High School.

Last week, approximately two dozen 10th and 11th grade students from the school’s Pride Academy (IT) were visited by a 4 foot tall Humanoid Robot named Pepper.

Two Sprint Solutions Engineers in North Carolina - Mark Snyder and Ray Gajan - worked to develop and present an hour-long program that would not only educate students on robotics and artificial intelligence, but by using Pepper also show them how the technology works in the real world today.

Students watched a short video to learn about Pepper’s capabilities and how the robot interacts with guests in hotel lobbies, shoppers at retail stores and travelers at airports. Then, one at a time or in small groups, the students were invited up to ask Pepper questions. They were even fascinated by how the robot could recognize their emotions – happy or sad for example.

Both students and a handful of teachers interacted with Pepper who answered their questions in a warm voice and lots of articulated arms and hands. The kids seemed to most enjoy studying Peppers movements, gestures, speech and the robot’s ability to detect emotional recognition.

Curious, they asked a lot of questions during the program, such as:

  • “Do you worry that this robot could replace humans in jobs?”
  • “How much does it weigh?”
  • “How long did it take to develop?”

One thing’s for sure. The future for today’s kids will be much different. Robots like Pepper won’t just be a “cool thing” to look at or pose with for selfies. They’ll be the norm, working side-by-side with them, which is why Sprint wanted to take Pepper right to the classroom.

“Our team had so much fun watching the kids engage with Pepper and get a real up close and personal look into robotics and where it’s going,” said Nan Gray, Sprint marketing manager for the North Carolina and South Carolina Region. “In fact, we’re already exploring what we can do during a follow-up visit to the school in the near future.”

 A year ago, West Charlotte High School became one of 11 schools across the country to participate in the pilot launch of Sprint’s 1Million Project. And so it was especially meaningful that Pepper came to give this same school a glimpse into the future. It’s our home that Pepper also helped to fuel their passions for science and technology too.

"Pepper’s visit with our Academy of Information Technology students, was a great catalyst that got their minds to think of the endless possibilities in technology," said Tammy Lane Brown, West Charlotte High School Pride Academy Coordinator.