Bowling with robots: Using tech to foster a positive learning environment

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Bowling with robots: Hammocks Middle School students use an app on their devices to operate a robot in order to knock down bowling pins.

Ask for a tour through the Verizon Innovative Learning Lab at Hammocks Middle School in Miami, FL, and you’ll glimpse student-created virtual reality (VR) worlds and a lab full of next-gen tech. In the Verizon Lab, students knock down bowling pins using robots, which they learn to operate through coding and apps. Lois Seaman, a Lab Mentor, used a lesson plan on robotics, one of many lessons freely available to educators on Verizon Innovative Learning HQ, to structure the day’s activities.

If it all sounds pretty futuristic, it is. “There’s nothing that isn’t amazing about this Verizon Innovative Learning Lab,” says Seaman.

As her students will tell you, Seaman often says that technology is great—especially when it works. That sentiment is a reminder that things don’t always go as planned, whether in life or at school, and it’s the type of life lesson that Seaman illustrates through the use of technology. Part of what her students learn in the Lab is to persist, even when things get challenging. “What I’m trying to show them is as learners, and as risk takers, and as mistake makers, we will learn new things, and we will be able to incorporate them at whatever level we can,” Seaman says.

The Verizon Innovative Learning Lab program is a multi-year initiative that integrates emerging technology, such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and 3D printing, with a student-centered curriculum in a custom-designed lab. The Lab curriculum encourages students to adopt a design-thinking approach to problem-solving: to empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test (and often retest!) an innovative, multi-disciplinary and human-centric way to create deeper understanding, uncover insights and develop effective solutions to challenges.

Verizon Innovative Learning Labs, along with an associated curriculum developed in partnership with the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovative Institute at Arizona State University, empower schools all over the country to become hubs of innovation. The Lab helps students reach the heights of their own creativity, says Seaman.

Educators can freely access similar lessons, professional development and learning apps, including the augmented reality app Verizon Innovative Learning lab Online, via Verizon’s education portal at ​​ It’s all part of Citizen Verizon, the company’s responsible business plan to help move the world forward for all.

What I’m trying to show them is as learners, and as risk takers, and as mistake makers, we will learn new things, and we will be able to incorporate them at whatever level we can,

Lab Mentor Lois Seaman

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