School's new special guest for the semester

SUPER COOL: Pepper the robot is on loan at Claremont Special School.
SUPER COOL: Pepper the robot is on loan at Claremont Special School. Rob Williams

THERE'S a new teacher in Ipswich and this educator knows exactly why teaching science subjects matters.

Students at Claremont State Special School were given the opportunity to learn about how technology will shape their future by interacting with it directly via Pepper - the humanoid robot.

Pepper can move, recognise voices and faces, speak and most importantly, teach children about coding which enables the 120cm, 28kg robot to do different things.

While Pepper doesn't come with a gender, the kids have been referring to their newest community member as 'she'.

In Japan, where Pepper comes from, she's a common sight offering menus and helping people with their daily lives.

At Claremont, Pepper is an invaluable teaching tool and will stay at the school for the semester as part of a trial funded through the Queensland Government's Advancing Education action plan.

Claremont State Special School Head of Curriculum Natalie Bufi said having Pepper at the school was a learning curve for both teachers and students.

Pepper arrived on July 27 and while Claremont is leading this STEM Cluster School Project, it includes the region's other special schools in Ipswich and Goodna.

Already, Ms Bufi has learned how to use coding to program the robot to say 'hello', to motion 'come here' and to play air guitar - a skill she will teach the kids.

But for the students at Claremont, the most significant benefit of having Pepper in the school is engagement.

"Our number one priority is student engagement,” Ms Bufi said.

"They are all talking about Pepper and asking when it will be their turn in the STEM room.

"Having Pepper around has also greatly improved their confidence.”

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