Here is a riddle: What connects the two newest employees of the Wellesley Free Library and the super-popular Internet game MineCraft? The answer: a ten-year-old boy named Oliver.
On or about August 4th of this year the Wellesley Free Library of Wellesley, Massachusetts purchased two NAO robots: one red; one blue. Looking forward to getting maximum press coverage, the library decided to run a contest to choose names for the two new library assistants. The names and the winner of the contest would be announced on September 17.
NAO, developed by the French company Aldebaran, happens to be the most popular anthropomorphic robot for educational pursuits in the entire world. Why? Because as the Wellesley Free Library website contends: NAO robots bring digital literacy to life! They are hi-tech ambassadors that welcome everyone to explore the world of STEM by encouraging curiosity, excitement and a passion for figuring out how, why and what if!
A contention that we here at RobotLAB have been arguing in favor of for years. Kids love to learn and they learn best when what they are learning inspires and excites them. And nothing excites kids more than robots!
Programing and coding classes involving the robots will be offered at Wellesley Free Library the same month. For those patrons who are too young or simply indifferent to programing and coding, there will be ‘Demo Days’ scheduled. At those times patrons can interact with the robots as they dance, read books or speak in one of the 19 languages they are fluent in. Beyond the library, the robots will help train teachers in the use of a software package developed by Aldebaran titled ‘Ask NAO’. This software is an interactive educational tool found to be valuable in assisting children with autism spectrum disorder.
But none of this was going to happen until these two robots had names of their own. I mean, a human-like robot without a given name is like a--like a--Oh heck, a dog without a bone!
Which brings this blogger to another question that has bothered him for some time: Why is this library called the Wellesley Free Library? Obviously it’s in the city of Wellesley…. But why is the word ‘free’ where the word ‘public’ is in any other city? Apparently the answer to this particular ‘riddle’ goes back to the 1880’s when wealthy railroad financier, philanthropist and amateur botanist Horatio Hollis Hunnewell built and donated the Wellesley Town Hall and Free Library building. Does that answer the question? Well, sort of.
Anyway, back to the original riddle. As promised, the name of the naming contest winner and the two names he chose were announced on 17 September. The winner’s name was Oliver and he is ten. The names he chose were LAVA for the red NAO and SKY for the blue one (makes beautiful poetic sense, don’t you agree?).
As to how he came up with those names…. I’m going out on a limb here, but where might a ten-year-old boy named Oliver find these words used in such a manner as to inspire him to give the names to two robots? My guess is MineCraft. Lava is listed as a Minecraft ‘block’ and sky is a Minecraft ‘skin.’ What exactly is a Minecraft block or a Minecraft skin? I haven’t a clue. I’ve yet to meet an adult that did--with the possible exception of a gamer called BaconDonut. The tiled image on the right is a sky skin. Below is a lava something or other.