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Fifth-Graders 'Amazed' By Westchester County Police Hazmat Robot

Westchester County Police Detective Thomas Barker demonstrated
how the department’s Hazardous Devices Unit robot operates and explained how
it’s utilized during a special visit to Main Street School on June 7.
Westchester County Police Detective Thomas Barker demonstrated how the department’s Hazardous Devices Unit robot operates and explained how it’s utilized during a special visit to Main Street School on June 7. Photo Credit: Contributed

Westchester County Police “wowed” fifth-graders in Irvington, showcasing some of the technology used to battle crime in the region.

Aa a culmination to their “Project Lead the Way” program, fifth-grade students at the Main Street School welcomed Westchester County Police Det. Thomas Barker, who brought the department’s 500-pound Hazardous Devices Unit robot to the school this month to demonstrate how the machine helps investigators utilize the device in the field.

According to technology teacher Gwenn Carney, “the visit made robotics seem real to the students. They were able to make connections to how robots can influence the safety of our community and the safety of law enforcement workers.”

Carney noted the robot – an Andros HD2 by Remotec – can pick up heavy items, evaluate dangerous areas and take photographs and surveillance of hazardous sites, among others. Operated by Detective Barker, it features a camera that tipped the motorized arm extension.

For months, students have been “exploring ways that robots are used in today’s world and their impact on society and the environment.

In the Project Lead the Way classes, students learned of various ways robotic components, before building and testing their own mobile robots. Working in groups, the students structured their robots using a VEX construction set that included motors, LED and color sensors and a programmable “brain.”

The Robotics and Automation unit culminated with a final challenge as the students created their own “hazmat” design to mobilize their modified robots to remove hazardous materials from a disaster site.

“The students were very excited and enthusiastic about seeing the robot move, and some even touched it,” Carney added. “They asked many thought-provoking questions, mostly related to our own PLTW unit on removal of hazardous waste through the use of robotics. Seeing the robot helped students transfer their knowledge of robotic characteristics to how they operate in authentic scenarios right in our hometowns.”

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