Can a robot really help keep students safe? One Irving student thinks so.
Jaime Cuevas, a 6th grader at Lamar Middle School, has created a robot, called ‘iRoby,’ to help keep his classmates remain safe in the event of a potential school shooting. iRoby is based on a remote-controlled car, and its features include lights, a built-in camera, and a microphone capable of two-way communication. The robot can also be controlled from up to 200 feet away and comes with a small cart to carry supplies.
Originally, Jaime created iRoby for fun. But then, the events that unfolded in Parkland, Florida made him change the robot’s purpose.
“At first, iRoby was basically a normal robot I was building, until I saw video of the Florida shootings,” Jaime said. “This was also inspired by Rachel’s Challenge and her chain reaction. I was really inspired by her to create this robot.”
Rachel’s Challenge is a non-profit organization named after Rachel Joy Scott, one of the first victims in the 1999 Columbine school shooting. The charity is dedicated to helping prevent violence in schools, and Jaime says his rob will help do just that.
“Let’s say there was a person shooting, and he was in the exit,” Jaime said. “He’s obviously going to wait for the exit, because he’s expecting us to open our doors and leave from there. With my robot, I’m here with my phone looking where [iRoby] is going, and he’s looking right at the exit. Once [the shooter] goes away. I can lead the kids to go safely out the doors.”
Jaime debuted his robot at the iCreate Next Generation Showcase held at Singley Academy last month, and it soon became one of the featured and most popular exhibits at the show. Kara Noah, one of the instructional technology specialists at Lamar Middle School, said Jaime’s creation was imaginative and unique, much like Jaime himself.
“I thought it was really cool and out of the box,” Noah said. “I haven’t seen anything like it before. I hadn’t ever seen a student take a toy, a remote-controlled car, and turn it into something that could be productive for a school building.”
Noah also stated Jaime’s imagination and technological skill also inspire the entire Tech Team at Lamar Middle School, in which Jaime is the only 6th grader on the team.
“Normally, we don’t let 6th graders join the Tech Team, because we want to get them a little more used to middle school first before they get thrown into something that has that much of a leadership position,” Noah said. “But when I met him, he started talking about how much he loved technology, and I thought he’d be a great fit for Tech Team.”
But Jaime has been enamored by technology long before he created iRoby. Angela Smyers is the instructional technology specialist at Austin Middle School, and was one of Jaime’ former teachers at Lively Elementary School. She shared a story about how she met Jaime as a first-grader.
“When I first met Jaime, my very first extended interaction with him was in first grade,” Smyers said. “His teacher at that time had submitted a work order, and when I responded to it, I went to the classroom. As soon as I walked in the door, Jaime met me at the door and he said, ‘You can leave, I already fixed it.’ I was like, ‘Excuse me? You’re six years old, what did you do?’ I listened to him and he had done all the troubleshooting correctly, and he had determined what the problem was, and the problem was it was a bad monitor. He said, ‘You just need to get her a new monitor, she’ll be fine.’ And that was Jaime as a first-grader!”
For all the work Jaime has put into iRoby, he’s still working to improve and upgrade it further. He said his next step would be to put a fully-mobile GoPro camera on the robot, and he hopes he can continue to create even more gadgets and technology.
“I was really inspired by Bill Gates and Steve Jobs,” Jaime said. “I never read books [on robotics], I never looked up on YouTube how to do all this. The first time [I fixed something] was when my mom had her phone broken. I replace screens for phones. I get viruses out of the computers. I basically fix stuff.”