Robo-Dog: Staunton High adding a robotic dog next year for technology students

STAUNTON — Robo-Dog is coming to Staunton High School.

Staunton City Schools was one of 16 divisions to receive grant money to upgrade equipment for CTE (career and technical education) and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs. Virginia's Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Coons made the announcement Wednesday. Each division will receive $37,500 to purchase new equipment and make other improvements to enhance student learning.

Staunton's grant will be used to purchase a robotic dog that Cassie Farrish, Staunton's secondary instructional supervisor, saw at a conference.

"It's basically a fully programmable robotic dog that uses various coding languages," Farrish said. "How I envision this is that the dogs will be embedded into our technology courses, possibly even some engineering courses."

Farrish said the grant money is for two of the robotic dogs, but after speaking to the sales representative she thinks the school can purchase three. They will arrive this summer and the plan is to have them in classes by the start of the school year.

"Students will get a chance through their programming classes and AP computer science classes to learn how to program the dog so hopefully take it for walks around the school," Farrish said.

She said once students learn the basics they will start to explore and find additional uses for the robot dog.

"It's part of a new technology, software development for robotics," Farrish said. "This type of software is also in what we're seeing in environmental mapping, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, even like automatic door openers. So it's a new type of technology that they'll be able to apply some real life skills to."

Farrish said by using advanced technology like robot dog students may discover careers that they weren't even aware existed.

A robotic dog is coming to Staunton High School for technology classes next year through a VDOE grant.
A robotic dog is coming to Staunton High School for technology classes next year through a VDOE grant.

The awards, by school division and school, are as follows:

  • Caroline County to purchase a geriatric program implementation simulator for Caroline County Schools’ Innovative and Engaging Career Exploration program.

  • Chesapeake to purchase a 3D printer and software for the Governor’s STEM Academy at Grassfield High’s If You Can Dream it, You Can Print it program.

  • Danville to purchase a solar alternative energy learning system for George Washington High’s solar energy learning program.

  • Frederick County to purchase a laser engraving and cutting system for James Wood High’s Precision and Manufacturing Go Hand-in-Hand program.

  • Giles County to purchase a machining lathe and software for Giles County Technology Center’s Precision Machining Technology program.

  • Goochland County to purchase an augmented reality welding system for Goochland County Schools Learning and Building Welding Skills through Augmented Reality program.

  • Greensville County to purchase a cutting machine and plasma cutter system for Greensville County High’s Producing Certified Welders via Built-In Intelligence and Revolutionary SYNC program.

  • Hampton to purchase a 4-axis robot arm, software and 3D printer for Jones Magnet Middle’s Innovation Career Exploration through Digital Fabrication program.

  • King William County to purchase a virtual reality welding simulator and monitors for King William County Schools’ Bringing Welding to the 21st Century program.

  • Montgomery County to purchase virtual reality and mixed reality hardware and software technology for the Governor’s STEM Academy’s Implementing Design/Build Training through Virtual Reality program.

  • Prince Edward County to purchase an augmented reality and virtual reality platform and camera for Prince Edward High’s Innovative Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Technology program.

  • Prince William County to purchase a laser system cutting table, router and 3D printer for Potomac Middle’s Excellence in Education with Innovation Equipment program.

  • Richmond to purchase drones, controllers and software for the Governor’s STEM Academy at Richmond Technical Center’s Students Take Flight in the River City program.

  • Roanoke County to purchase an augmented reality and virtual reality platform and robotics software for the Governor’s STEM Academy at the Burton Center’s Enhancing CTE through Immersive Technology program.

  • Staunton to purchase a programmable mobile robotics platform for Staunton High’s Robo-Dog: The Classroom Pet of the 21st Century program.

  • Wythe County to purchase programmable drones with electronic image stabilization cameras Fort Chiswell High and Wythe County Technical Center’s Connecting Wythe County Youth to Unmanned Aircraft Systems program.

The General Assembly established the CTE equipment grant program in 2016, and the Virginia Department of Education awarded the first grants to schools and technical centers in 2017. Since then, the program has provided $4.2 million to help school divisions update equipment and enhance learning and experiences for career and technical education students.

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— Patrick Hite is a reporter at The News Leader. Story ideas and tips always welcome. Contact Patrick (he/him/his) at and follow him on Twitter @Patrick_Hite. Subscribe to us at

This article originally appeared on Staunton News Leader: Robo-Dog on its way to Staunton High School for technology classes