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White House Festival Features Film On Student Attending Class By Robot

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) —  Students from a school in Davie are heading to Washington D.C. on  Thursday to feature their short film at the White House Student Film Festival.

Student videographers, Rachel Huss and Justin Etzine, from David Posnack Jewish Day School, will attend the film festival on Friday.

The short film, titled Posnack Technology: A Day in the Life of Kyle, follows Kyle Weintraub, a seventh grader who is being treated for lymphoma in Philadelphia but continues to attend school in Florida by using a special robot.

Thanks to the VGo telepresence robot he controls remotely from Philly.

Weintraub said he didn’t think the robot was real at first, but now says “yeah, it is real. It’s different, but it’s like I’m there.”

The robot stands about four feet tall and at the top has a video screen showing Weintraub’s face.

“He controls it all from his computer in Philadelphia and he has full remote access and it responds instantaneously as he is driving in full control and he can tilt it up and down,” said his school’s IT Director Jeff Shapiro.

The robot allows Weintraub to signal the teacher for help or to ask a question by flashing bright lights. He’s seemingly equipped with everything he needs for class, including a sense of humor for the occasional frustrations.

“Yeah, one kid specifically I won’t say his name, but he keeps putting his hand in my camera and it gets annoying. You know who you are,” Weintraub said with a big smile on his face.

His classmates describe him as a regular student with perks.

“Well he looks cooler,” said Brian Brandwein, one of Weintraub’s classmates. “When I found out he was getting the robot we thought it was really cool.”

The robot and its software cost about $10,000, but his classmates helped foot the bill by fundraising.

“It’s our mitzvah project,” said 11-year-old Marni Rosenblatt. “It’s when you wanna do something good for somebody.”

Rosenblatt said she always thought the robot for her classmate was a good idea, but was even more excited after actually seeing it in the classroom.

“I was surprised because it was ten times better than I expected!”

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