Hospitalized Children Enjoy SC Aquarium with VR Robots
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What's the story?
- The South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston, SC, is introducing a new way for kids at MUSC and Prisma Health Children’s Hospitals to learn about marine life with telepresence robot technology.
- Through a program piloted by MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital, children can explore the Aquarium with an on-the-ground robot controlled directly by the patients from their hospital beds.
- Using tablets to tap into the experience, patients can maneuver the robot themselves to enjoy the immersive exhibits and lead their own explorations. An educator will aid the virtual tour and answer any questions that come up along the way as the patient's curiosity guides them through the Aquarium.
- The Aquarium’s team is working with the hospital to arrange robot tours during patients' free time and treatments.
- The program allows the kids to connect with nature and partake in fun, educational activities while they’re unable to travel. Alayna Robertson, the Aquarium’s virtual programs coordinator, said:
“It has been truly amazing to facilitate this experience. The kids are able to take control and drive through the Aquarium on their own exploration, when in many other aspects of their lives, they may lack that sense of being the one ‘at the wheel.’”
- The robots offer a bridge to connect the patients with marine life, which Robertson said is the program’s ultimate goal. The patients can even join groups of local students on field trips and talk to other Aquarium visitors.
- Betsy McMillian, child life manager at the hospital, shared:
“We were thrilled when the Aquarium team approached us about this program. The Lowcountry views from our hospital rooms offer the perfect background to this unique and educational escape for our inpatients. We are grateful for this amazing opportunity. What child doesn’t want to steer a robot and tour the wonderful South Carolina Aquarium at the same time!”
- Much of the Aquarium’s work emphasizes the importance of nature on our well-being, Taylor Stathes, manager of child life and special programs at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital, said:
“When kids are doing what they do best, and that’s play and exploring and learning, you know, that’s also going to impact their health and well-being. Which helps us with our goals here to get them out, back home and in school and back to their normal routines.”
What’s to come?
- As the successful test drives continue, Robertson gave a glimpse into how the Aquarium will continue to grow the experience for kids, such as leaving the Aquarium walls and exploring the Charleston harbor. The Aquarium and hospital hope to have the program up and running soon for children to use.
Want to get involved? Donate to the South Carolina Aquarium here.
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I think this is a wonderful program to help kids get through a hospital stay. I think it is a wonderful program generally for kids. It gives them insights that would be hard to get any other way.
It is educational in both the academic sense and kind of a practice experience sense as well. A good eduction requires both to truly understand the world as it is.
I am surprised that the MAGA-morons have not tried to shut it down to keep kids from learning about the world as it is. Where they may actually understand that mankind has an impact on the planet and they might feel sorry for what we are doing to natural habitats.
OH, this is not Florida - where " "'wokeness' goes to die".
Love all the virtual programming. Continued my travels during COVID lock down virtually. Even after lockdown ended there are some destinations I will never physically travel to but have enjoyed virtual tours.