Pepper shakes up school holiday STEM Camp

Students at the 2017 Vice-Chancellor's STEM Camp will have the chance to meet and mingle with humanoid robot Pepper. Image supplied by QUT

Teenagers from across Queensland who are taking part in QUT’s school holiday STEM camp will have a new non-human ‘mentor’.

The annual QUT Vice-Chancellor’s STEM Camp’s newest addition is Pepper – a humanoid robot who will help guide the visiting Year 11 students through the camp.

The event runs from September 25 to 29 2017 and has attracted 160 of the state’s brightest teenagers.

They come from Brisbane, Ipswich, Logan, Caboolture, the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Toowoomba, Fraser Coast, Bundaberg, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Longreach, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns.

QUT’s STEM Leader (Teacher in Residence) Matt Brooks said Pepper (created by SoftBank Robotics) was the world’s first personal humanoid robot that could recognise emotions.

“We have lots of dynamic QUT researchers, scientists and students involved in our STEM camp but in 2017 they will be joined by Pepper for the first time,” Mr Brooks said.

“Pepper will welcome the Year 11s to the orientation, visit them through the week and take part in the project showcase finale on Friday (29 September 2017). We know the students will love meeting and interacting with Pepper, who really is the future of robotics.”

QUT is Australia’s first university to use Pepper specifically for a social robotics research platform.

The slender robot can mimic human behaviours, such as following the conversation by looking at whoever is talking and responding to questions asked by students.

One of Pepper’s key ‘jobs’ at QUT is interacting with students and the public at The Cube – the university’s world-leading interactive STEM space with two-storey digital screens.

The QUT Vice-Chancellor’s STEM camp is now in its fifth year and is an exclusive application-only experience for high-achieving senior school students.

Fully funded by QUT, it caters for 80 Brisbane students and 80 from regional Queensland.

2017’s hands-on research projects will tackle topics including:

  • the 3D printing of body parts
  • superbug outbreaks
  • mathematics for imaging and virtual reality
  • robot assistants
  • water engineering to prevent inland tsunamis
  • increasing bone strength in athletes

Guest speakers joining QUT’s experts in the week include videogame producer and Geek Girl Academy co-founder Lisy Kane (a QUT graduate) and Fiftysix Tablet Kit inventor Taj Pabari (2014 Australian Young Innovator of the Year).

Source: QUT

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