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About Sickkids
About SickKids

July 29, 2013

Robot a hit with students at Kids Science event

Rick Hansen High School students setup their prize-winning robot for a demonstration at SickKids.
Rick Hansen High School students setup their prize-winning robot for a demonstration at SickKids.

By Nino Meese-Tamuri

A game of Frisbee between a group of teenagers and a robot turned heads in the atrium at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) recently. The special metal guest was part of a daylong Kids Science event that showcased the use of robotics in both medicine and engineering and inspired a group of 30 teenagers with an engaging science outreach program.

“It was pretty cool,” said Ivy Osei, 15, who is entering Grade 11. “It was my first time at SickKids as part of this program and it was excellent. I really feel like I learned something.”

The day started with an informal presentation by Dr. Lisa Robinson, Chief of Nephrology and Kids Science Project Leader, who started the Kids Science program at the hospital in 2006. Kids Science is a series of annual science outreach events designed to inspire “at risk” students and those lacking access to such opportunities. It aims to help students make informed post-secondary education and career choices in the fields of science and technology. In her presentation, Dr. Robinson talked about her work as a kidney doctor and answered questions about the organ itself, kidney disease, transplant risks, and current research. The attendees were so engaged that their numerous questions pushed Dr. Robinson’s presentation past the allotted time.

“I was amazed at the level of knowledge and interest that these teenagers had for what I do,” said Dr. Robinson. “It was quite inspiring to see. It shows how important this program is and that it can be the key to unlock the students’ true potential.”  

Dr. Robinson’s talk left a strong impression with most students.

“The doctor just wowed me,” said Hafsal Hoda, 17, who is interested in a medical career herself.

The visiting students were part of the University of Toronto’s Summer Mentorship Program, which invites high school students from marginalized communities to explore a hands-on science outreach program throughout July. They were joined by students of Mississauga’s Rick Hansen High School, who presented their prize winning robot. It won the 2013 international FIRST championship in St. Louis. The robot can drive, aim and shoot Frisbees both autonomously and through remote control.

The teens finished the day with a visit to the hospital’s Kidsarm surgical robot and learned more about the research at SickKids’ Centre for Image Guided Innovation & Therapeutic Intervention. For many, it was an eye-opening experience.

“The students were happy to see that they didn’t have to choose between medicine and engineering, but that there are opportunities to combine the two disciplines,” said Kids Science Officer Adrianne Wong. “It was a big success and I can’t wait until next year.”  

To learn more about Kids Science and to see if you qualify to participate in the program, please visit our website.

See the robots in action!