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Nixa student attends class through robot technology. NGBY PROXY Don Abernathy Tfor the Headliner News here is one student at Nixa High School who stands out from all the rest. She may not be able to attend in person, but with the help of technology, her Double robot allows her to participate in class activities just like every other student. Her name is McKenna Smith. “I love technology and this experience is very interesting,” McKenna said. “Other students seem like they really like it — like it’s really cool — and I think they enjoy the experience and seeing me have it.” She uses two wheels for mobility. There’s a long pole that extends from the base — just above the wheels — to support the camera system. There’s an iPad fi xed atop the pole that displays her face and also allows her to communicate with the teacher and the rest of her classmates. Smith attends class via a wireless connection through her laptop from the comfort of her bed to the school district’s newly-acquired Double robot made by technology startup company Double Robotics. The Double robot is an iPad-based telepresence robot that resembles a Segway. “She can be at the hospital in St. Louis getting chemo and still be in class,” Justin Smith, McKenna’s father, said. “With an internet connection, she can attend class from anywhere in the world.” McKenna suffers from neurofi bromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow anywhere on or in the body and can affect the development of non-nervous tissues such as bones and skin. There is no known cure. “She’s a very strong girl who doesn’t let people know she’s in pain,” Justin said. “She has chronic pain and she’s on daily pain medicine. She’s had four operations, two rounds of radiation and four cycles of chemotherapy. One surgery in 2004 was 13 hours long and they removed a grapefruit sized tumor from near her esophagus.” But back at home, she looks like the other high school students. She loves art, she loves technology, and she has a smart fashion sense. Since being introduced to the Double robot, McKenna’s grades in math have improved dramatically. “It’s amazing how her math grades have turned around, all because she could participate in lectures and ask questions,” Justin said. “She was getting Ds and Fs in her math class and now she’s getting As and Bs. She wasn’t catching on to instruction at home. It would Continued on Page 19 FALL 2016 THE NEST NIXA PUBLIC SCHOOLS MAGAZINE 17


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