Monday, November 29, 2021

Nickelodeon Premieres 'Nick News: Cyberbullying, Robots, and Turtles'

Nick News breaks down the headlines that matter to you! In Nick News: Cyberbullying, Robots, and Turtles, Robot Besties Break the Internet, Turtle Hospital Helps Save the Species, and Side Hustle Stars Jules and Jayden Fight Bullying. Tune into the next edition of Nick News, premiering Wednesday, November 17 at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT, straight after the latest NFL Slimetime at 7, only on Nickelodeon!

This edition of Nick News features cyberbully survivors Jules LeBlanc and Jayden Bartels from Side Hustle; then it’s man’s ‘man-made’ best friend: robots; followed by the oldest sea turtle hospital in the world, saving them from extinction. (#104)

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Waltham students featured on Nickelodeon show

Some of Waltham's most curious young students were highlighted on Nickelodeon on Nov. 17, as cameras from the children's cable network followed a field trip of Waltham Public School students through the Boston Dynamics headquarters. 

The students were featured on the show Nick News, a weekly program on Nickelodeon  presenting features on different real-world topics and issues in a kid-friendly environment. The students were used as part of a feature on Boston Dynamics, and the robots they have designed, such as the human-like Atlas and the dog-like Spot, which have been part of viral videos in recent years due to their life-like behavior. 

Deena DePamphilis, who serves as the director of  science for middle and high school students in Waltham, said Nickelodeon reached out to the district looking for students that could be shown on the program. DePamphilis than worked with different robotics teachers to identify students  interested in participating. 

"Nickelodeon reached out to us about pulling together a group of students aged 8-14 to tour Boston Dynamics," DePamphilis said. "Our robotics and engineering teachers worked quickly to pull together a group, the only ask from Nickelodeon was that they be curious and ask a lot of questions, which wasn't a problem." 

Students were taken through Boston Dynamics on Oct. 28 and shown the different robots the company has designed, including Atlas, who had gone viral in the past for it's human like movements, including doing backflips and choreographed dances. Students were encouraged to ask questions to the engineers about how the robots work and what potential services they could be capable of.

Students also got a chance to interact with Spot, where students were allowed to "pilot" the dog-like android around the robot playground at the facility, which is mostly just various terrains and obstacles  the robot would potentially see out in the real world. The robot is manipulated  by a controller similar to most video game consoles,  making it familiar to students.

"Every single kid got to drive Spot, including trying to crash over different terrain and learn how to stand it back up," DePamphilis said. 

The team of engineers and robotics professionals also shared their background with the students, as well as the trials and prototypes  Boston Dynamics went through to end up with the sophisticated robots they have today.

"One teacher told me that the older models were very much used, dinged up and duct taped, and it was awesome for the kids to see that," DePamphilis said. "Students learned about the different work/interest backgrounds of the employees, one person for example used to build bicycles and does not have an engineering or robotics degree." 

The episode of Nick News featuring the Waltham students can be viewed on Nickelodeon's website. The Waltham students are featured at the 7:20 mark of the episode. 


Originally published: November 12, 2021.

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