Robotic Education: JJ's Story

Published 03/11 2014 05:44PM

Updated 03/11 2014 07:30PM

Evansville, Indiana - A student at Evansville Lutheran; who's a cancer survivor is attending his classes thanks to a robot. Jonathan "JJ" Bland is just like many eleven year olds. He's a vibrant and smart sixth grader who loves science, but bone cancer has kept him out of the classroom.
That is until his school made it possible for him to attend class virtually.

Lunch break is over for six graders at Evansville Lutheran.As most return to class upstairs Jonathan Bland or J.J. stays on the ground floor.

"Right now I'm still healing from nerve pain", Bland says. JJ has bone cancer in his left leg.

"I can't go upstairs until this heals. Just waiting for it", he added.

It's limited him to crutches for now.

"I found out the first few weeks of fifth grade" , Bland says about his cancer that was discovered the summer of 2012.

Evansville Lutheran Principal Tony Shull says, "we want to do everything we can to keep him connected and keep his excitement and keep his learning going".

So, the school bought him a special robot that goes to class for him. He controls it from downstairs using an I-pad. A camera and microphone allow him to communicate with the teacher; even read what's written on the board.

"Seeing the light in his to his friends" shull added.

J.J. has been using the Double Telepresence Robot for a month and says he's happy to attend class even if its virtual.

The system allows him to remotely maneuver the robot from class to class.

"I don't have to rely worry about other people giving me the information that I missed so I'm actually able to hear it myself", he says.

While he'd rather be with his friends; J.J. says the robot allows him to better focus as he waits to heal.

"I don't have the distraction of other kids doing anything" , Bland said.

The school says they have plans to build an elevator in the near future. Meanwhile, J.J's doctors say recent tests on Jonathan show no signs of cancer. He hopes to be healed and return to the classroom by the end of April.


Report by Fadia Patterson

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