Robotic Floor Cleaner Helps Teach Students Coding at Plano School

NBCUniversal, Inc.

A new piece of technology designed to make it easier for school custodians to keep a campus clean had a surprisingly different effect at a school in Plano.     

It's kind of like a robotic vacuum cleaner on steroids -- a self-driving robot methodically making the rounds at St. Mark Catholic School scrubbing and cleaning.

"We went to go outside and saw it and thought, 'Oh, that looks so cool,'" student Addison Samples said.

It was a gift from a parent to clean the floors, so maintenance staff could focus on high-touch surfaces, and to spark the curiosity of students.

"It was really cool and I was like I wonder how this works Educators," student Ambrose Denvir said.

They saw the excitement about the robot and realized they had something.

The kids named it LEO, complete with a lion outfit, and teamed up with the company that donated it to teach their students how to program and code the computer inside.

"This is different, because instead of sitting at a computer and doing it you’re out there moving with it you’re out there, learning to how like ride with it and everything," teacher Liliana Benavides said.

The students manually drive the route they want the robot to take, teaching to computer to record every step.

The students were already master coders taking part in the school's robotics team, which needed some help.

"Right now with COVID, we‘re not doing things with robotics because it has to be a group or a team, so this was a good idea to do this," Benavides said.

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