A Wearable Language Revitalization Robot for Indigenous Youths
The first cultural robot... designed entirely by Indigenous leaders.
A personalized, wearable, and interactive Indigenous language revitalization robot that senses motion and speaks our languages. The students build the robots themselves. Built to take tech learning out of the classroom, the robots were made to supplement community language learning for free. It has been a success in enabling our youth to bring the robots home to learn with their families and in creating learning tools they resonate with.
Try on our virtual robot lens, developed with the Chicano and youth-led Lucid Skies LLC on Instagram! The lens speaks some Ojibwemowin too and is helping us usher in the future of education and innovation!
Get A SkoBot: Waitlist Open
Our Virtual SkoBots Shop for Indigenous high school students waitlist is now open. Get added to our waitlist today. Our new programs begin in January, 2022.
Language is vital to preserving Indigenous cultures and identities—but resources are dwindling and hard to access. Indigenous languages are extinct in the United States, and estimates suggest that only 20 Indigenous languages will remain by 2050. Our founders own language, Ojibwemowin, is considered an endangered language. Hundreds of Indigenous languages are extinct in the United States, and estimates suggest that only 20 Indigenous languages will remain by 2050.
SkoBots is an interactive and wearable educational robot that sits on your shoulder to teach our youths their traditional languages. The 3D printed robot incorporates traditional and personal elements into the unique design and responds to being approached with speech and a flashing light. The robot costs $100 USD to make and is sent to Tribal schools and Indigenous educational institutions for free, alongside mentorship and leadership programs for their students. The robot was created to be a community learning tool, something to foster community ties and learning together. Looking to the future, fully-functional artificial intelligence that works without Wi-Fi has been created and will be released after our student-led AI program in the beginning of 2023.
First released at the American Indian Science and Engineering Society 2021 Powwow garnered surprising and exciting results: children responded to the robot. Babies would look up at the face of the robot and children asked to dance to the music it was playing. It was engaging and fun and spoke Taino, Ojibwemowin, and some Dine Bizaad. This created an opportunity to continue to build a fun resource that the kids can make their own and use to supplement Tribal educational programs.
The robots were conceptualized by Danielle Boyer Ojibwe (Inventor), Dr. Joshuaa Allison-Burbank Diné & Acoma Pueblo (Speech-Language Pathologist), Robert Maldonado Taino (Design Mentor), and has been informed by students and community members for The STEAM Connection.
In the summer of 2020, Dr. Joshuaa Allison-Burbank and our founder Danielle Boyer created the fundraiser Books for Diné Bikéyah to bring Diné books to Diné youth living in Navajo Nation during the pandemic. The fundraiser brought in over $40,000 in donations and was created to provide access to our education no matter what.
Dr. Allison-Burbank is a Developmental Scientist at Johns Hopkins University, a Speech-Language Pathologist, founder of Little Moccasins Educational Services, Author, and Educator. Dr. Allison Burbank and Boyer connected over their love of books. After learning of our founders learning disability, he approached her about pursuing a fellowship in 2020 at the University in Vermont on neurodevelopmental disabilities and mentored her.
Combining Dr. Allison-Burbank's expertise, our mentor Rob Maldonado's design mentorship, and Boyer's work as a robotics inventor, educational activist, and as someone who is working to learn her own language, SkoBots was created for The STEAM Connection! Dr. Allison-Burbank came up with the name SkoBot after skoden and helped come up with uses and applications for the robot. Boyer came up with the cat-like droid design, the wearable interactions, designed the electrical system, and programmed the robot. Maldonado and Boyer created the mechanical design.