UTPA Report: Robot Zoo

UTPA Report: Robot Zoo

POSTED: Saturday, October 19, 2013 - 3:30pm

UPDATED: Saturday, October 19, 2013 - 3:39pm

Valley children can now explore the biomechanics of cool animal robots thanks to a touring exhibit at the UTPA Visitor’s Center called The Robot Zoo.
Reporter Roxanne Lerma gives us an inside look at the exhibit in this week’s UTPA report.

Stephanie Huerta, the science coordinator at Miller Jordan Middle School in San Benito, was looking for a unique way to reward her school’s science fair winners, when she found out about the Robot Zoo that set up shop at UTPA.

Stephanie Huerta, “Now with all the testing going on at school we don’t have a lot of room for hands on lab so bringing them here exposing them, it gives them a really good idea of grasping the concepts that are going on in the classroom.”

The exhibit reveals the magic of nature as a master engineer. Nathaniel Medrano, Harlingen middle school student, “I like it because you get hands on training about how animals work and how everything is done by animals.”

Eight robot animals and more than a dozen hands-on activities educate students about fascinating characteristics like how a chameleon changes colors, how a platypus propels itself and how a fly walks on the ceiling.

Stephanie Huerta, “They don’t have a lot of experience with things like this so being able to see stuff like this they are very open-minded especially since they are young and so they change careers ideas every day but being able to see this they get a new vision of what they could be.”

UTPA president, Dr. Robert Nelsen, got a chance to enjoy the exhibit alongside the kiddos. He’s hoping the displays will give Valley students a push toward science and math related careers.

Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, UTPA President, “When they come here and they do these things they start deciding what they want to be in life. They decide they want to be engineers and we need more engineers and we need more scientists.”

Students picked up some interesting trivia from the display. Peter Watt, “I think geckos are cool how they camouflage and how their tongue is so flexible.”

Cutaways expose the animals' insides and show how animals work. By comparing anatomy, and the size of the actual creatures to the mechanical counterparts, The Robot Zoo provides fantastic new insights for the youngsters.

Adrian England, “It’s interesting to see how all the different mechanics of an animal or bug kind of work.”

Mathew Reyes, “I think it’s better to learn hands on because the students actually get to work with the equipment instead of with a school book you are just reading it.”

Dr. Nelsen said exhibits like these draw in students to the university, and it could be their initial glimpse of college life.

Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, “For a lot of them it is the first time they have ever been on a university so when you’re on a university you get to start to dream about being there full time. I think it starts dreams, the sooner we can get them on the campus the better.”

1,500-square-foot- exhibit will be on display at the UTPA Visitors Center thru January 3rd. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

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