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Visually Impaired Students Learn Robotics at La. Association For The Blind

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Courtesy: Chuck Smith / Red River Radio News

ROBOTICS ACADEMY - When we think of robots, the first thing most of us envision is something from a science-fiction novel or Hollywood movie.  But the fact is robots are very much a part of everyday life.  They're on assembly lines, in elevators;  in fact you probably come in contact with robots and don't even know it and it's a very big industry.

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Credit Courtesy: Chuck Smith / Red River Radio News
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Courtesy: Chuck Smith / Red River Radio News
ROBOTICS ACADEMY - Several NW La. high school students completed a 5 day Robotics Academy at the Louisiana Association for the Blind.

Recently some northwest Louisiana high school students got to take a crash course in robotics.  The Louisiana Association of the Blind held a 5-day robotics academy for visually-impaired students.  The students were introduced to writing computer code, selecting technical components and assembling a working robotic device.  Chuck Gardner teaches technology for the Cyber Innovative Center in Bossier City,  He explains more:

"Today's robot rally demonstrated what the students have learned and how they're applying it to their own projects and hopefully encouraging them to take this forward and study coding or computer science and computer info systems as they move forward because there are so many opportunities in the area. We want to make sure that every population has the opportunity to excel in these spots."

Now learning technology can be challenging for anyone … and you might think  visually impaired students  may be at a disadvantage…but Gardner explains these students  were able to catch on pretty quick.

"The ability to focus and concentrate and analyze spatially what hundreds of lines of code are doing is, I think, a distinct advantage that these guys have. When I'm looking for a section of their code and I call it by name, they immediately know where it is and they're scrolling down and they can find exactly where it is. It's that spatial recognition that we all take for granted."

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Credit Courtesy: Chuck Smith / Red River Radio News
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Courtesy: Chuck Smith / Red River Radio News
TEACHING ROBOTIC TECHNOLOGY - Chuck Gardner teaches technology at the Cyber Innovation Center in Bossier, LA.

One of the robotics students is Gary Deier is a 10th grader from Caddo Magnet School in Shreveport… when he heard about the Robotics Camp – he couldn’t wait to get started.  

"When I heard that LAB (La. Assn for the Blind) was doing this robotics academy, I said 'Oh I HAVE to do this!' because I love robots. Before then I didn't know much about coding at all, so right when I stepped into the field it was really fun."  And does Trey plan to pursue future studies in robotics?  

" I heard they're going to do this again next year and I'm planning to do this again. I also plan to be coding over the summer with this new knowledge that I've gained.  I've learned about 200 lines of coding in 'P-Basic' and I'm going to try to learn some more of them."

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.