DAVIS, CA - A UC Davis graduate is bringing educational robots to the classroom.
"I really believe robots bring a practical hands-on application to math and science," Graham Ryland said.
Ryland is the president of Davis based start up "Barobo."He started the company in March 2010 andactually developed the technology while getting his master's in mechanical engineering at UC Davis.
The educational robots, called Linkbots, are already in 30 Sacramento middle schools and high schools.
"I really like being able to program it and move it around," 7th grader Angelika Hessel said.
Hessel attends Sacramento's School of Engineering and Sciences.
"Your creativity runs wild," classmate DJ Olander said. "You can do anything."
"We designed Linkbot to bridge the gap of computer programming," Ryland explained.
The Linkbot is a modular robot, fully functioning on its own. You can use your imagination, attach different accessories, and create new robots. There's even a hands on "coding" feature.
"We created something called 'pose teaching' where you can record different poses with a robot," Ryland said. "Then play them back like stop motion animation for robotics."
Barobo has been funded through two National Science Foundation grants. Ryland recently launched a crowdfunding campaign through Kickstarter to raise money to make more Linkbots. The goal is to raise $40,000 by June 18.
Ryland wants educational robots in more classrooms.
Dylan Besk, a teacher at the School of Engineering and Sciences, sees the benefits.
"It starts off seeming like a game, but the more we work, the more we incorporate geometry and programming," Besk explained.
"It blows me away what they (students) come up with," Ryland said.
Ryland fell in love with robots at 8 years old and he knew he had to make a career of it. He's hoping the Linkbot might spark a similar passion in others.
It may already be doing the trick.
"I can see myself making my own robots," Olander said.