BTI’s collaboration with Stanford robotics is terminated


Pzucchel / CC BY-SA 3.0

This is an example of a Liquid Handling Robot. By sending commands through coding, its arms can pipette liquid into each hole, exactly in the tubes.

Rachel Matatyaou, Publicity Director

As a result of all of the advancements in robotics during the 21st century, many people have attempted to make robots a helpful tool in classrooms.

Carlmont’s Biotechnology Institute (BTI), a pathway within the science department, planned on utilizing robots from Stanford in their program.

Stanford and their partner Learning Tech received a grant to build Liquid Handling Robots (LHR) and approached Tina Smith in hopes of teaching her BTI students about them. Since Smith’s students are mixed into a Biology 4 course, Stanford agreed to collaborate with her first and second period biology classes.

These robots are supposedly capable of pipetting liquids in a science lab. Although the students can pipette on their own, an LHR would reduce the amount of time it would take to do so. In order for the students to code and operate the LHR, they need to learn about and become capable of making the code to direct their robots.

Stanford began their collaboration with Carlmont on March 16 when they introduced programming to the students. On March 19, the students participated in a programming workshop. 

“They learned to program on on Monday and Tuesday,” Smith said.

On Tuesday morning, a member of the Stanford team met with Smith and told her that they would have to cancel the rest of the weeks’ plans due to technical difficulties. 

In an email to Smith, Len Erikson, the vice president of education services said, “The LHR did not pass integration testing. It is not ready for the planned classroom activity. There is not a further classroom session we can provide until the LHR passes testing and multiple units are available.”

Although Stanford offered to schedule another week to continue their collaboration with Carlmont, Smith declined.

“Unfortunately, I could not reschedule this week because I have already altered various times in order for Stanford to come,” Smith said.

Smith’s students had been looking forward to this week since the beginning of the school year.

“I enjoyed and thought it was cool when I used Microbit to send commands to the robots. It was disappointing to hear they canceled,” said Sammy Blucher, a junior in Smith’s first period class.