Jan. 28-April 29
$4, plus general admission; $2 members
Discovery Center Museum, 711 N. Main St., Rockford
Robots have long been a staple in pop culture: think housekeeper
Rosie in The Jetsons, Star Wars' R2D2 and the sniffle-inducing
Wall-E. But a new exhibit at Discovery Center Museum in Rockford
proves our robot friends aren't just entertaining, they're also
Robots: The Interactive Exhibition features 15 displays that
teach kids and families about the world of robotics. Characters
from the 2005 animated film "Robots," including protagonist Rodney
Copperbottom and his friends The Rusties, pop up to add some
"We say it helps (visitors) explore the reel and real science of
robotics," says marketing manager Ann Marie Walker.
The exhibit takes its "interactive" title seriously. Walker says
kids will especially enjoy the hands-on aspects, including the
chance to use a robotic probe to explore underwater, in deep space
or on the surface of Mars at Robot Explorers; to program a Ford
robotic arm like those used in car manufacturing with Industrial
Robots; or to complete the construction of a robot at
Another highlight will be the Crosstown Express, a fully
interactive "tour" of a robot city that will make you feel like
you've landed in an amusement park ride, complete with moving
And keep an eye out for some of those pop culture robot
favorites, who make appearances throughout the exhibit.
But Walker is quick to point out that exhibit isn't purely
entertaining-it fulfills the museum's mission of combining science
with things kids find interesting.
"Right now, there's a push in our country to promote
STEM-Science, Technology, Engineering and Math," she says. "This
exhibit really does that."
She hopes visitors will go away from the museum with a renewed
interest in engineering and a curiosity to learn more about what
makes robots work.
And maybe someday, to the relief of moms everywhere, one of
those visitors to the temporary exhibit finally will figure out how
to make a housekeeping robot a reality.
Elizabeth Diffin is the senior editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.
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