Springfield second-grader attends class from home through double robotics

A Warder Park-Wayne second-grade student is attending her classes with the use of double robotics technology.

Elliette “Ellie” Miller, 8, was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, a condition that severely limits her mobility, including the ability to walk or sit up without help.

SMA also causes Ellie to have a weakened immune system, which prohibits her ability to physically be in her second grade classroom at Warder Park-Wayne Elementary School, especially in the pandemic era.

But Ellie’s family and a team of teachers collaborated to acquire the technology from the Ohio State University College of Engineering. Ellie has been using the double robotics technology since she was in kindergarten.

A robot that looks similar to a segway with an iPad is positioned in Ellie’s classroom. Each day, Ellie is able to video chat into the robot’s iPad and controls its movements from home. Ellie’s family makes it a point to tap into the robot as often as they can, especially during story time and group activities.

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Ellie primarily receives home instruction through intervention specialist teacher Jill Wuebker.

With the help of double robotics, Ellie maintains a presence in her classroom and can even interact with her fellow students.

“We are so proud to be part of Ellie’s journey,” Springfield City School District Superintendent Dr. Bob Hill said in a release. “Our priority is to meet the needs of all students to provide them with a world-class education.”

Ellie is the only student in the district using double robotics to attend her classes, and she is also the first in “recent history” to utilize double robotics equipment in the district through a district partnership with OSU, the district said.

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Ellie’s presence in the classroom is two-fold: it helps her achieve better social skills, and it also facilitates a better understanding of people with disabilities for her classmates.

On one occasion before Christmas break, Ellie’s classmates showed her their Christmas craft creations.

“To have those kids learn at a young age, acceptance, is such a huge part of this whole experience,” said Ellie’s mom, Nikki Miller, in a press release.

Miller is hopeful that Ellie will be able to attend in-person class parties and celebrations when COVID cases begin to decrease, the district stated.

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