Robot Gives Hospital-Bound Girl Continuity with School


A unique piece of technology is helping a fifth-grade student named Peyton virtually attend school while she’s in the hospital for radiation therapy.

PAVS is an advanced robot that uses a camera-based monitor to feature Peyton’s face and voice and which allows her to attend her elementary class in Montgomery County, Maryland which is about 250 miles away from her hospital.

The robot’s name, ‘PAVS’, stands for Peyton’s Awesome Virtual Self, and it makes sure she can attend all of her classes at Poolesville Elementary even if she physically cannot be in the classroom. The robot lets Peyton interact with her class, talk to her teachers and virtually move around the classroom.

PAVS is a rolling machine that’s four feet high. With an attached iPad screen, it shows Peyton in real-time while it lets her view her class and watch her lessons and other activities through the school day. Fellow students and teachers at Poolesville have warmly welcomed PAVS, The Washington Post reports.

One of Peyton’s classmates who sits along with PAVS said the idea was ‘really cool’ and recognized how Peyton might feel lonely and bored in the hospital away from her friends, the Christian Examiner reports.

The 10-year-old Peyton is thin with blue eyes, and as The Washington Post says, she loves penguins, the color green, and sparkly fashion. Peyton also loves science and math, two subjects she can still engage in thanks to PAVS.

Many in the media, including The Washington Post, Food World News and the Christian Examiner, have pointed out that the advanced robot lets Peyton return to normalcy and participate in her classroom lessons and engage in activities her peers do. PAVS gives Peyton the chance to stay connected with her classmates and friends and offers her a sense that she can continue her usual activities despite her health issue.

According to Peyton’s mother, Lynn Schaeber, one significant success of PAVS is that it enables Peyton to retain her socializing activities and to maintain a level of continuity in her life:

“We forget as parents that school is their life. They wake up preparing to go to school, and the last thing they do at night is homework.”

According to the district’s director of technology integration and school support, Kara Trenkamp, there’s currently a learning curve in integrating PAVS into the classroom, but she expressed her gratitude that the project so has had some very positive outcomes.

The robot has drawn the attention of more schools and districts, Maryland officials say. Teachers from Fairfax County in Virginia visited PAVS’ school to see firsthand the possibilities the advanced robot makes possible in terms of virtual learning for students who cannot attend due to health-related, geographical or other limitations.

Doctors are also seeing the value of robot technology, among them AeRang Kim, a pediatric oncologist at the Children’s National Health System, who says the potential of such technologies is immense and with multiple benefits for patients.