Keisha intro When my friend Marci told me she was building a robot in science class, I pictured a metal creature like the ones I'd seen in movies.
But Marci explained that a robot can be any machine controlled by computers to carry out a physical task. It might not look human at all!
viking on Mars
Marci wants to be an engineer someday. She'd like to help build robots for the space program.
robot cleans
It would be great if she could design a robot to clean my room! 
What kind of robot would you create?  Try this experiment and find out!
what you need
 a pencil or a pen
 paper or a journal
 a partner
what to do
Pick a partner.  One of you will be the robot and the other will be the controller.
The controller will command the robot to do a simple task like picking up a pencil, walking across the room, and placing the pencil on a desk.
Try writing a "program" for the robot first.  All the steps are written down all at once and then given to your partner as a set of directions to follow.  The task will be done this time without talking to the robot (your partner), so every step counts! 
Do the same task again but this time, use remote control.  The controller will use his or her voice as the remote control and will give step-by-step directions for the robot to follow. It is like a very exact game of "Simon Says." 

The commands may be something like:
*Take 2 steps toward the pencil.
* Open your fingers and put your hand on the pencil.
*Bring your thumb and fingers together and grasp the pencil.
*Lift up your arm, etc.

The important thing is that the robot should do only what the controller says!  Write down what you say so you can compare the two different ways of giving directions.  When you are done, switch places and start over!

How many steps does it take for the robot to complete a task with remote control? 
How many  steps with the program? 
Did you forget to include any steps with either one?
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more facts
Megan case alert There are two ways engineers tell robots what to do.  One kind of robot works by "tele-operation."  That's when a person (called an engineer)  uses remote control to move parts of the robot as it carries out its task. 

The other kind of robot follows commands from a computer program.  These robots are given all of the steps at once, and the program lists every step needed to carry out a task.  So the robot follows directions on its own. 

Which kind of robot did you like better?

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