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  25 Nov 2021, 10:50

Seoul trials pint-sized robots in nursery schools

SEOUL, Nov 25, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Seoul has started trialling pint-sized
robots as teaching aids in kindergartens -- a pilot project the city
government said would help prepare the next generation for a hi-tech future.

   The "Alpha Mini" is just 24.5 centimetres tall and can dance, lead sing-a-
longs, recite stories and even teach kung-fu moves as children mimic its
push-ups and one-legged balances.

   "The robots help with the kids' creativity," teacher Byun Seo-yeon told
AFP during a visit to the bright and busy Maru nursery in Seoul.

   The robot's eyes wink and blink -- and its pupils become heart-shaped
during conversation.

   With a camera on its helmet, it takes photos that are instantly sent to a
tablet for viewing.

   "In the future, knowing how to manage AI and related tools will be very
important," Han Dong-seog, from the Seoul government's childcare division,
told AFP. The robots are being trialled in 300 Seoul nurseries and childcare
centres, with the government recommending the programme for children aged
three to five.

   "We believe having this experience in nursery schools will have a lasting
effect throughout their youth and as adults," Han said.

   The Alpha Mini has been adopted as part of a daily schedule for the class
of four- to five-year-old students at Maru, with its ability to "fart" on
command being a highlight during playtime.

   "When I tell it to sing, it sings well. I tell it to dance and we dance
together," said five-year-old Lee Ga-yoon.

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