Students take out their phones to catch Spot do a little dance at UMF on Thursday, Nov 17. Boston Dynamics designed Spot, along with their other robots, to have dynamic, high mobility. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

FARMINGTON — On Thursday, Nov 17, UMF students were treated to a visit from Boston Dynamics, and their canine-inspired robot Spot.

Associate Professor of Science Education Carole Lee arranged for Spot to visit her class which specializes in teaching science at the kindergarten through eighth grade level.

Steve Williams, Principal Compliance Engineer from Boston Dynamics, gave the class a demonstration of Spot’s capabilities and what potential applications it may have. Students were charged to think of ways Spot could be used.

“I think it’s super cool,” Cal Montembeau, a student, commented. “It’s the first time I’ve seen it in person, other than social media, and it’s just crazy. It’s completely different than seeing it online.”

“It was terrifying at first because it just stood up and started walking,” classmate Madison Lenfast added. “It’s cool to see the different moving parts. It’s cool to see how comes together, but it’s definitely scary.”

Steve Williams, right, shows students of Professor Lee’s class where Spot’s battery is located. Spot needed to recharge for the busy day it had at UMF on Thursday, Nov. 17. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

Williams gave a series of examples, from nuclear testing facility, bomb disposal and tedious warehouse work. Spot has a wealth of possibilities and Williams discussed practical applications and the potential cost of those applications.


“Can you make it fireproof enough to go into a burning building?” one student asked.

“Yes, absolutely. However, that’s a huge effort,” Williams answered, “And also, the other part of that is I have an unlimited supply of money available to me, because of the R&D [research and development] you have to do on that. Obviously, you’d want to enclose everything.”

Williams went on to elaborate that, even though it is possible, the financial cost to sell that kind of product would be tricky. “We can solve any problem if you can commit to it. The thing is, is there a need? Is it cost beneficial? These are all parts of the equation.”

These were one of the many aspects of engineering technology that Williams discussed, which was Professor Lee’s intent.

“I want [kids] to learn it when they are young,” Lee said. “They’re more receptive, they’re more excited about things. So that’s what I really want my students, who will be teachers one day, [to teach] and introduce this concept to the elementary students.”

Spot’s day continued with visits from The Blue Crew Robotics Club from Mt. Blue High School and Spruce Mountain Middle School.

“They had lots of great questions about Spot’s design, utilities, and features as they consider how what they learned about him informs their own work,” Division Chair for Elementary, Early Childhood, and Early Childhood Special Education & Secondary and Special Education Patricia Williams stated. “They also had fun driving Spot. A Secondary Math Methods course and a Physics course also received visits and time with Spot; he’s had a very busy couple of days at UMF.”

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