Coburn also lists a National Science Foundation-approved grant for more than $130,000 to allow researchers to study how robots can help preschoolers learn language skills.
The new robots, which are expected to be designed as dragons, will be able to mimic many of the responses that humans make. Nodding and eye gaze will be components of the robot interaction. These responses are essential for the robot to form a bond with the child, researchers say. Videos and computers lack such cues and are not as helpful for teaching as a responsive dragon robot might be, they say.
The report also cites a $484,000 Community Development Block Grant for a “drug-themed ‘Mellow Mushroom’ Pizza Restaurant.”
“Our nation currently faces many challenges; a shortage of beer and pizza, however, is rarely cited as one of them,” the report said. “Still, a private developer received nearly half a million dollars in federal funds to build Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers, a nationwide pizza chain, in Arlington, Texas.
“Mellow Mushroom is known for its tongue-in-cheek references to drug and hippie culture, sponsoring events such as the Sweetwater 420 Fest and calling its staff the Shroom Crew,” the report continued. “‘This Mellow will feature 3D artwork on the walls, mood rings, a lava room, and over 17 televisions all in a hippie chic setting,’ one local news story reported on the new Arlington location.”