Military robots in school sets bad example for Canton students
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - 2:09 pm

To the Editor:

I am avid supporter of STEM education and believe our students need to be introduced to it early and often. But the story, which appeared in the newspaper on Jan. 23, “Military robots visit Canton Central,” was troubling on several levels.

I question the appropriateness of bringing in bomb disposal robots and Army specialists to introduce this technology as some kind of high-tech STEM game. Using “PlayStation controllers” gives students the wrong impression about the real job and the equipment.

I know, because my son did that job in Iraq when he was deployed there, after intensive training. It was not a video game; it was excruciating work with life and death consequences performed under difficult and dangerous conditions.

Frankly, having Fort Drum soldiers in school for an entire day joined by an Army recruiter based in Potsdam smacks of something far more than a career day with STEM overtones. Will we be showing off unmanned (and hopefully unarmed) drones to teenagers next? What about setting up a recruitment table in the cafeteria at lunch?

There are many STEM-related fields of endeavor that students can be introduced in a public school’s classroom. Making bomb disposal seem glamorous – or easy – is not one of them.

I wonder what parents and the public thought, seeing a Bomb Disposal Unit at the school, given the current state of national concern over violence and guns in educational settings.

Right now Canton Central School is desperate for the public’s help to keep their doors open. This exercise in poor judgment does not help that cause.

Donna Seymour, Potsdam