Bowling with robots: Using technology to enhance a positive learning environment

Request a tour of the Verizon Innovative Learning Lab at Hammocks Middle School in Miami, FL and you’ll see student-created virtual reality (VR) worlds and a lab full of next-gen technology. In the Verizon Lab, students use robots to knock over bowling pins, learn to code and build apps. Lab Mentor Lois Seaman used a lesson plan on robotics, one of several free lessons offered to teachers at Verizon Innovative Learning HQ, to structure the day’s activities.

If it all sounds pretty futuristic, it is. “There is nothing surprising about the Verizon Innovation Learning Lab,” says Seaman.

As her students will tell you, Seaman often says technology is great—especially when it works. That feeling is a reminder that things don’t always go as planned, whether in life or school, and that Seaman explains through the use of technology as a life lesson. Part of what her students learn in the lab is to persevere when things get tough. “What I try to show them is that as students, and as risk-takers, and as mistake-makers, we learn new things, and we can incorporate them to the extent that we can,” Seaman says.

The Verizon Innovative Learning Lab program is a multi-year initiative that uses emerging technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and 3D printing in a custom-designed lab with a student-centered curriculum. The lab curriculum encourages students to adopt a design-thinking approach to problem solving: to empathize, describe, ideate, prototype, and test (and often re-test!) to develop insights and effective solutions to problems.

Verizon Innovative Learning Labs, along with related curriculum developed in partnership with Arizona State University’s J. Orrin Edson Institute for Entrepreneurship + Innovation, encourages schools across the country to become hubs of innovation. The lab helps students reach their own creative heights, Seaman says.

Educators can access similar courses, professional development and learning apps for free through Verizon’s education portal at, including the augmented reality app Verizon Innovative Learning Lab Online. It is part of Citizen Verizon, the company’s responsible business plan to move the world forward for all.

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