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Milo: The robotic classmate that helps develop social skills

Developed by RoboKind, the electronic pupil is used by teachers for students with autism or other developmental needs.

ALBERTVILLE, Ala. — Milo is a smooth talker. He can engage and charm virtually everybody he comes into contact with. He can even pick up a beat and show off some sweet dance moves. As far as Asbury Elementary School is concerned, Milo is a BMOC - Best Machine on Campus.

As Marshall County Schools Superintendent Dr. Cindy Wigley explained, Milo is a robot.

"Milo is used as a teacher resource to be able to have an extra tool in the classroom to meet student needs," Wigley said.

Specifically, Milo was developed by RoboKind, a company devoted to technological ways to assist students on the autism spectrum, or who have other developmental needs in a classroom setting. The interactive robot encourages children to interact, helping them gain social and communications skills necessary for life in our out of school.

Marshall County is one of only a handful of districts in the state of Alabama to incorporate this technology, but Milo is catching on in schools across the country.

Evidence is there to support the tool's growing use. In a December 2022 study by Youngstown State University, a professor wrote, "the results from the first year of data collection are positive and indicate that students made significant gains.

Dr. Wigley agrees. "The outcomes are even more than we could expect," she said. Marshall County teachers say they have already seen an improvement in student interaction and their ability to listen, learn, and participate.

Milo is not undertaking this task alone. RoboKind has four robots in all, each designed to help students of different backgrounds. One, "Jemi," is inspired by Dr. Mae Jemison, the first woman of color in space.

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