While we may think of motorized scooters as purely for enjoyment, recently some researchers put babies on a makeshift scooter in hopes of speeding of their learning process.
And so far, so good.
The WeeBot is a device created by Ithaca College associate professor of occupational therapy Carole Dennis along with physical therapist Hélène Larin and computer programmer Sharon Stansfield. It contains a motorized base, a booster seat and a Nintendo Wii balance board. The scooter moves as infants shift their weight, and it uses sonar to avoid collisions.
"Learning doesn't seem to depend on age; it seems to depend on the ability to move freely in the environment," Dennis told ABCNews.com. "We call it driver training. They develop the expectation very early on that if they lean they're going to get a toy."
A study by the three researchers designed to test self-initiated mobility found that 5-to-8-month-old infants made their way to a toy using the WeeBot 88 percent of the time, compared to 24 percent of the time when using a joystick.
The WeeBot could also be instrumental for children with disabilities. The researchers found that after six training sessions, a 15-month-old boy with disabilities resulting from cerebral palsy was able reach a toy 85 percent of the time.
"After the fifth training session, I got an email from his parents that said he'd just begun to drag himself on the floor using his elbows," Dennis said. "He hadn't done that before. We'd like to think the ability to explore his environment gave him the impetus to try to move."