Say Hello To The Robots

HUNTINGTON STATION, New York, July 3

BY: Andrew Wroblewski

“Dōmo arigatō, Mr. Roboto.”

For those who need to brush up on their Japanese a bit, that famous Styx lyric translates to: “Thank you very much, Mr. Robot” – a phrase that students in the Middle Country School District may have to become familiar with as professional development company, Teq extends its reach across Long Island.

Huntington Station company, Teq will soon send out NAO robots like this one to the Middle Country School District.
Huntington Station company, Teq will soon send out NAO robots like this one to the Middle Country School District.

Teq, which is based out of Huntington Station and aims to evolve the modern classroom through technology, announced on June 19 that it was selected by Middle Country to employ nine NAO humanoid robots – programmable, autonomous robots – in eight of the district’s elementary schools, which hold over 4,000 students.

“We are committed to preparing our students for success in an ever-changing, technological world,” Michael Dantona, director of core curriculum for the district, said in a press release. “The NAO robots are powerful tools that engage and motivate students, while fostering the development of their critical and logical thinking skills.”

Teq made waves last year when it instituted the very first NAO robot into a Long Island school with the South Huntington School District in September. Now, the robots appear to be piquing the interest of other districts as well.

The company, which booted up for the first time in 1972, was originally based out of a small barn in Oyster Bay, but is now home to 23 education professionals in Huntington Station whose ambitions lie within giving educators more power by incorporating and improving technology in the classroom. Along with the education professionals, Teq employs 250 people and on June 10 announced the promotion of Chris Hickey as the company’s new president.

“With the NAO robot, students build critical logic and problem-solving skills while promoting collaboration, communication and out-of-the-box thinking to achieve solutions,” Damian Scarfo, CEO of Teq, said in a press release. “We help teachers make the robot an effective teaching and learning tool with our professional development program.”

In Middle Country, the robots will be used to help students learn the basics of coding, how to institute drag-and-drop commands, along with teaching the robot how to perform tasks like turning around and dancing.

Students should be able to say hello to the robots this September, according to Lisa Hendrickson, a public relations official for Teq.

“The robots generate enthusiasm for learning and interest in STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] subject matter,” Dantona said.

While Teq is looking to expand its reach across Long Island, the company is also thinking bigger as it soon hopes to reach school across New York State.

Teq also announced last week that it reached an agreement with SMART Technologies Inc. – a Canadian company best known for its SMART Board technology – allowing Teq to sell New York State schools SMART’s latest software.

The deal – made in tandem with the New York State Instructional Technology Contract Consortium and 24 of the Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) of New York State – will allow more than 450 school districts, consisting of over 4,000 schools, to purchase the suite of SMART’s software. Said suite consists of programs aimed at helping teachers and students to take full advantage of classroom technology, and will be sold to schools by Teq at pre-negotiated rates.

“We are proud and excited to introduce the first unlimited suite of classroom collaboration software to the K-12 community,” says Rob Sugarman, owner of Teq. “We believe this product offers our customers tremendous value and the opportunity to expand their 21st century learning environments while increasing teacher effectiveness and student achievement.”

Teq's NAO robots, pictured, were rolled out to the South Huntington School District last year.
Teq’s NAO robots, pictured, were rolled out to the South Huntington School District last year.

Originally published: Long Islander News: Half Hollow Hills (Thursday, July 3, 2014;  A7)

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