MSI Robots

Remember Rosie the Robot from the Jetsons? I still sometimes dream that she'll ring our doorbell and offer to take over as our housekeeper. And while she has yet to come over, you can catch her amazing friends at the Museum of Science and Industry on April 5 - 13, for the first annual Robot Block Party in honor of National Robotics Week 2014.

The MSI has invited several different kinds of robots from around the world for a futuristic festival that promises to be both fun and educational. Hands-on robot displays will give kids (and adults!) the chance to meet a wide range of amazing bots. You'll have the chance to play with a pet robo-dino (that emulates the imagined behavior of a week-old baby Camarasaurus), a robotic snake, and the R-One Swarm, playful robots that work with SWARM technology, communicating with each other, and moving and behaving like a flock of birds or an army of ants. These robots were not just created for fun and games: the Paro Therapeutic Robot looks like a stuffed animal but was designed to reduce stress for hospital and nursing home patients.

Live Science Demos will be taking place throughout the week in the museum's rotunda, giving visitors a chance to see the robots in action and ask questions galore. You'll learn how Versaball and Three-Finger Adaptive Robot Grippers can pick up things and meet iStan, a lifelike human patient simulator used for medical training. Older kids will appreciate the scheduled lectures and workshops from some of the top university robotics scholars.

The robo-fun extends into the month of April. On Saturdays and Sundays, teams of college students from across the U.S. will be sharing their cutting-edge research into robotics with live demos and competitions. Also on weekends, Big 'Bot Blowouts will showcase presentations by some of the top minds in the field, more robots and their creators, and even sporting events! A BotBall Championship will take place on Sunday, April 13: BotBall is a team-oriented robotics competition for middle- and high-school aged students who design, build and program the competing robots.

For the full schedule of Robotic Week events at the Museum of Science and Industry, visit msichicago.org/whats-here/events/national-robotics-week. Check at the Information Desk (Main Level 2) on the day of your visit for updates. Be sure to share your National Robotics Week experience on twitter at @msichicago with #Roboweek and #MSIbot.