Robotics The Tech
Classroom Activities

Super Sleuth


You are Super Sleuth and must solve this mystery:

What is a robot?

Solve the mystery by investigating the Robotics exhibit and locating the answers to the questions listed below. You don't need to write down the answers, but be ready to report back to the Inspector (your teacher or group leader).

What to do

First, gather the facts. Look around your home and school for machines, appliances, and other things you use everyday. Are any of them robots? Why or why not?

Next, investigate the exhibit. Can you find the answers to these questions?

  • What information can robots gather? (Sensing)
  • What kinds of robots can "see?"
  • How can robots detect motion?
  • What does the robot drawing arm look for to be able to draw pictures?

Are there any robots in the exhibit that you think could do a job for you? What would you have them do? (Acting)

  • Compare Dante II and Terregator (both are mobile robots). How do they move about? Where can they go?
  • Many robots only have arms. How many different robot arms can you find in the exhibit?
  • How many joints do they have? While looking at and moving your arm, think about the directions that you and the robot can move.
  • Look at the end effectors or what the robotic arm uses instead of hands. How many different types of end effectors can you find and what types of tasks are they being used to complete?

How would you tell a robot to stop what it was doing and o something else? (Thinking)
  • Try programming a robot at the station, Make my Machine. Is it easy?
  • How can you program or tell the seven-foot high ABB industrial robotic arm how to throw a particular basketball shot?...that's right, throw a basketball! It takes 50,000 lines of program code to do this. Luckily, we've given you a shorter way to tell it what to do.
  • Can robots do any jobs better than you?
  • What can you do better than robots?

Now, solve the mystery by pulling all the facts together and drawing your own conclusion. Have you changed your mind about the robots in your world? For some things it may be difficult to decide if it is a robot or not.

Report back to the Inspector. Give your teacher or group leader the answer to the question:
What is a robot?


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