“Can you say hello to Zeno?” The elementary students in grades 3, 4 and 5, and the staff members at Canon Elementary School, Grapevine, Texas, were able to say this with great enthusiasm when the robot, Zeno, was brought to their school for an exhibition. The demonstration took place at the elementary school on October 4th, 2013, with the goal of promoting the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) program at Canon Elementary School. Three Electrical Engineering students, Joe Sanford (PhD student), Nnennaya Udochu (MSc student) and Abhishek Thakurdesai (Undergraduate student), from Next Generation Systems Group at the University of Texas Arlington and UTARI (The University of Texas Arlington Research Institute) fielded questions and spoke about the basic details of the robot, Zeno, to the students and staff members in attendance. Zeno a 2 -foot tall, child-like robot, was built to function as a human-robot interactive system with the goal of assisting with the diagnoses of early stage Autism Spectrum Disorder in children. During the robot exhibition, basic questions such as, “How was Zeno built? Does Zeno have a sister? Can Zeno smile, walk or blink?” were asked by the students. Facial expressions such as smiling, frowning, and blinking of the eyes were shown to the children as they gathered round Zeno for a closer look. The Canon Elementary students were fascinated by Zeno’s ability to display realistic human-like expressions. A short demonstration of how Zeno can mimic human behavior was also a huge hit with the students. During the demonstration, a participating UTARI engineering student stood in front of an Xbox Kinect and made movements with both hands. Zeno mimicked these hand movements as the on-looking students and staff members watched with keen interest. The excitement was high and the students were glad to have had the chance to see Zeno in person, ask questions and have a chance to take a photo with the robot.
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