AUSTIN (KXAN) - Once glance around Mrs. Castro's second-grade class at Holy Family Catholic School in North Austin, and something sticks out.
Witt is working on math problems at his desk with a robot.
The machine stands just over four feet tall and has a computer monitor at the top with a small camera that pans up and down.
Matt Pettinato, 7, is on the monitor joining the class live from an apartment in Houston. The second-grader is there fighting his second battle with leukemia.
"He was about two weeks from being done with treatment and he had a relapse," said Lisa Pettinato.
In July, Matt underwent a bone marrow transplant using bone marrow from his twin sister, Sarah, who is in the class next door.
When Matt comes home for good in a few weeks his immune system will still be weak.
"There's too many germs at school so until I get recovered I have to stay at home doing the robot," said Matt through the computer screen.
Matt sits at a table with his laptop and is able to control the robots every move from his mouse pad. So far, there has one been one accident.
"We knocked down a chair once," said Matt who is dressed in his school uniform.
"You don't want to get in trouble with the principal," said Matt.
Matt's mom gets to watch it all from their temporary apartment..
"Yes, we're very Space Age," joked Lisa.
If it weren't for the robot, Matt would only have a teacher dropping by four hours a week to help him keep up with school work.
"Being able to participate in the class and have to sit and focus for the day has really been what we were hoping for," said Lisa.
It helps that Matt is a star student. His teacher prepares his lessons a week in advance and gives them to Matt's father who commutes back and forth to see his son on the weekends.
"He does wonderful," said Matt's teacher, Peggy Castro. "His dad brings the work back. I check it. We stay right on task."
Matt's teacher said it took time for her and the students to get used to the robot in class, but it is becoming the new normal. The technology isn't just a teaching tool for Matt.
"[The students have] grown, I've grown tremendously," said Castro. "Even after teaching all these years -- you learn everyday, and I think that it reminds us there are diff erent ways people learn."
The robot is completely free for Matt's family and other students who have benefited from the technology. It is made possible through a new program called "Morgan's Angels." Morgan is a girl from Lovelady, Texas who had leukemia just like Matt.
About a year ago, she received the very first robot from the Education Service Center in Region Six. They are spearheading the new technology in the state after Kipp Robbins spotted it at a distance learning conference. The center has raised their own funding to pay for eight robots so far. They hope to have two more by the end of the year.
Each robot costs about $4600. The education service center that serves Austin schools just received their first robot. They are still in the process of pairing it up with a student.
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