World Book Dictionary defines robot as “a machine made in imitation of a human being; a mechanical device that does routine work in response to commands.” I met my first robot in 1979 at the Texas Instruments plant in Austin, where it delivered mail. Despite early promises to the contrary, robots today are found not in the home, but primarily in factories. And although there are robots made out of Legos, there is no robot designed to pick Legos up from the floor. I, however, remain hopeful.

Design Your Own Robot5 stars

"Robots come in all shapes and sizes. But what does it take to design one?" You are about to learn. First, you'll be assigned a mission for your robot. Will it be to search a sunken ship for gold? Or to explore the surface of Mars? Design your robot by choosing elements for six basic functions: sensing, movement, manipulation, energy, intelligence and looks. When finished, you'll view your robot and your design will be critiqued. This totally awesome exercise requires the free Shockwave plug-in. Get it now.

Get a Grip on Robotics5 stars

This exhibit explores the jointed-arm robot which "looks similar to a certain part of your body." Each direction a joint can move gives the robot one degree of freedom. So, a robot arm with three degrees of freedom can move in three ways: up/down, left/right, and forward/backward. Although some robots have six, eight or even twelve degrees of freedom, six is enough for most basic tasks, and therefore most working robot arms have six degrees of freedom. The human arm, however, has seven. Find out which movement you have that most robotic arms do not.

Robots and Space Toys3 stars

Robby the Robot is not the latest student project from M.I.T. He's a classic robot toy. Brian Hayes of England, shares with us his passion for collecting vintage robot and space toys. To view these gems from the fifties and sixties, visit his Robot Gallery and Classic Plastic. If you wonder how much that robot toy found in your attic is worth, Brian has a bulletin board and posts free classified ads.

Honorable Mentions

The following links are either new discoveries or sites that didn't make it into my newspaper column because of space constraints. Enjoy!


Robot Zoo

Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "Robots." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 10 Mar. 1998. Web. 28 Aug. 2015. < >.

About This Page

By . Originally published March 10, 1998. Last modified March 10, 1998.

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