Science Doesn’t Sleep (8.18.08)

Robot Vista
Creative Commons License photo credit: Kiwi Flickr

So here’s what went down after you logged off.

Robots: they’re so hot right now. A new surveillance bot looks really cool – but it’s also extremely noisy (and so not very good for surveillance.) And – this robot could save your life.

A humpback whale has lost its way, somehow ending up in the Baltic Sea – an area that lacks the food it will need to survive.

What’s it like to be an Olympian’s brain?

It only stood waist high, but it might have given Usain Bolt a run for his money – the small British Ornithopod Hypsilophodon foxii was so fast it had a special adaptation to keep its ribs from rattling at top speeds.

Shockingly, Bigfoot find turns out to be a hoax. (Though with a web site like this, I can see why major networks attended the “press conference.”)

The NASA spacecraft Cassini has taken “razor-sharp” images of 1000-meter deep fissures in the surface of Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons – a place believed likely to contain life (or at least, more likely than other places in space).

A new study from the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center indicates that low density foods may be the key to weight loss. Sponsored by the Mushroom Council, the study recommends foods that have a low ration of calories to volume, like…mushrooms.

As Arctic ice melts, Canada will search for the remains of a 19th century expedition that was lost in pursuit of the Northwest Passage.

Science Doesn’t Sleep (8.12.08)

African Elephant
Creative Commons License photo credit: Martin Pettitt

So here’s what went down after you logged off.

What gives jalapenos their kick? Fungus. Yum.

Robots with skin? Japanese scientists have developed a stretchy, rubber covering for robots that allows them to detect heat and pressure.

Elephants never forget – really. A new study has shown that herd matriarchs have exceptional memory for distant sources of food and water which can be the key to their herd’s survival.

Just one restaurant can produce 490 tons of CO2 every year – and there are 940,000 of them just in the US. So, how do you feel about “green cuisine?”

Have you been following the “case of the missing viper” at Moody Gardens? It sounds like something out of Encyclopedia Brownbut It’s escaped for real - twice. And now, investigators are pulling out the polygraph.

Did you stay up to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower? What did you think? Leave us a comment and let us all know what the experience was like.

Robots Rock

 
 

Creations from this week\'s Rockin\' Robots class! Robots are amazing! Some make you milkshakes, some help you clean your house, some even entertain us (as if drinking a milkshake while cleaning your house was not entertaining enough) and as we have found at Xplorations Camp this summer, kids love robots.

The kiddos in Rockin’ Robots camp this week have had the chance to learn what a robot is: they program some really adorable bee-bots to travel around, they make some fun robot crafts and even practice moving like a robot for the robot sing-a-long at the end of the week.

As kids get older, they can come back each year for more robot excitement in Roving Robots for 6 and 7 year olds and then RoboLab and Battlebots for 8-12 year olds and we even have an Advanced Robotics class for those who are excited about more in-depth programming.

Kids come up with all sorts of cool things robots could help us with – a favorite has been the robot who does homework and makes root beer floats.  My cousin visited earlier this summer for a week of camp and was the grand champion of her Battlebots Friday Battle. It is so much fun to check out these camps as the weeks go by – great to see kids enthusiastic about building and exploring and making things go – a great start for our future engineersMy cousin, Grace Caroline, preparing her champion robot for battle!

Just in case you were wondering – Merriam Webster defines a robot as follows:

1 a: a machine that looks like a human being and performs various complex acts (as walking or talking) of a human beingalso : a similar but fictional machine whose lack of capacity for human emotions is often emphasized b: an efficient insensitive person who functions automatically2: a device that automatically performs complicated often repetitive tasks3: a mechanism guided by automatic controls

Just as an update on my last post, the coolest thing I bought for camps this week - by far - is the Pitcher Plant I got at Whole Foods. The Parasites and Predators camp will study it when they learn about carnivorous plants. The grossest thing that’s been in the fridge lately is probably the pans of “gross krispies” – our yucky rock-, bean- and shell-filled version of rice krispies treats that smell like delicious, real rice krispies but are filled with things you know you can’t eat. 

Robo-dogs at the Rally

Here we are, in the 6th week of summer camp.  As the weather is heating up outside, more and more cool things are happening here at the Museum summer camps!  Week 6 heralds the first week of Advanced Robotics camp and the activities could not be more fun.  Building a working electric motor, constructing a rocket robot, and programming Robo-dogs are all part of the excitement! 

Campers are busy programing their robo-dogs to compete in Rally-Obedience training events.  Check out this awesome video of one robo-dog successfully mastering a level in the rally!  Notice the signs at our Rally-O are almost exactly like the real thing!


For those of you who don’t know what Rally-Obedience is, it is a fun and competative team sport for dogs and their human handlers. 

Dog and Handler teams navigate a course with numbered signs indicating different exercises to perform such as Sit-Down-Sit, Straight Figure 8, Send Over Jump, Recall Over Jump. Teams navigate the course at a brisk pace without direction from the judge or any other outsider. Talking to your dog is always encouraged in Rally-O.   Any dogs, purebred, mixed breeds and dogs with disabilities are encouraged to participate.

Check out this next video.  It’s fun to see the campers get so excited when the robot performs exactly as it was programmed.


Check back often for more camp updates!!