Image by Mike Hedge and Tiffani Bearup

Lance Weiler’s most recent project began with a simple yet provocative question: can a robot reboot education? To answer that question, Weiler collaborated with fellow Workbook Project contributor Janine Saunders in creating Robot Heart Stories with a team of more than 50 creative professionals.

For the project, students in a Los Angeles elementary school class and a Montreal media workshop teamed up to send Laika, a small female robot scientist, from Canada to California. As a team of award-winning photographers drove the robot across country, the 42 students fueled Laika’s journey with stories, videos and letters. Photographers and other artists brought the children’s work to life and, in turn, uploaded their work to the website.

While this ambitious project focused on the two groups of students, aspects of the campaign were open to the world. Anyone could create a heartpack, origami robots that could be painted, colored or photographed in different settings. Those images were also uploaded to the Robot Heart Stories website. Other classes used the project for experiential learning projects. This collaboration had virtual and real world implications. The website notes that “everything you submit helps the robot’s heart meter reach full strength, AND it helps raise money for underpriveledged [sic] students.”

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