COLUMBUS, Ohio — Every morning it helps Jacob Haldeman wake up. It rolls through the hallways of Worthington Estates Elementary School, making sure Jacob does not miss a moment at school.
In this case, a robot did not replace a human. It created a new pathway between humans.
Jacob, age 10, is a different kind of “home-schooled” in that he simply goes to school… from home. His robot is connected to an iPad which uses FaceTime to connect him to his iPad at home. He can do his assignments and take notes from home, plus keep up with friends.
The robot came as an idea from a classmate’s parent at Ohio State, who had access to the robot technology. Jacob’s need to stay home stems from a lingering respiratory illness which has confused doctors. In late 2015 Jacob collapsed under severe pain in a Walmart and rushed to the hospital. Doctors have yet to target what happened, but they suspect Jacob will need a double lung transplant. Recent tests have been somewhat encouraging, so the Haldeman family is awaiting a second opinion. He only leaves home for doctor appointments or to visit his grandparents house. Only a few visitors have come by, to reduce the risk of germs in the house.
Jacob’s mother, Ashleigh, serves as the cheerleader sponsor at her alma mater, Thomas Worthington. Friday night her Cardinals boys basketball team met their district rivals from Worthington Kilbourne before a full house at TWHS. Worthington district staffers decided to support Jacob by having him as a special guest to the game… through his robot. At halftime, Jacob drove his robot to center court, and with his mother and sister on hand, he waved to the cheering crowd. The student section chanted “Jacob, Jacob, Jacob” as he turned his robot around to face them. The TWHS team signed a basketball for him.