My dad is an engineer, so my brother and I joke that we’re each 50% nerd. (Love you, Dad!) Maybe it’s genetic that I enjoy visiting museums, especially ones like Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.
I always skip the regular exhibits, which are a bit dull unless you like old train sets and farm equipment. I recommend heading straight to what’s new. In the past, I’ve enjoyed their exhibits on Dr. Suess and Walt Disney, which combined childhood whimsy with revealing stories about the person behind the magic.
(Fun fact: Did you know that Theodor Geisel pronounced his pen name, Dr. Suess, as though it rhymed with voice? “Soice” or “Zoice.” Isn’t that fun to say? 🙂
Their newest exhibit is Robot Revolution, which is perfect for this engineer’s daughter. When you enter the exhibit, it feels like a robot playground. I played my way through the room, from the eye-tracking robot to the blackjack dealing robot. Here were my favorites:
The EMotive headY System (EMYS) robot displays human emotions by moving three disks and his eyeballs. The EMYS robot can express six emotions: Happy, Afraid, Disgusted, Angry, Sad and Surprised. (His eyeballs pop out for Surprised!) The emotions are simplified but still convey the meaning in a cute and non-threatening way. By expressing emotions, EMYS robots will better be able to integrate into our lives — like Rosie in the The Jetsons.
I also liked the PARO robotic seal, designed to comfort sick or aging people by responding when someone holds or pets it. It can distinguish individual voices and learns how to respond based on individual’s reactions. This type of robot also makes an appearance in episode 8 of Aziz Ansari’s Master of None, titled “Old People.”
The Robot Revolution is not included in the general admission ticket, so you have to pay $11 extra and have an assigned entry time. The downside is you have to wait a few minutes in the regular exhibit area. But the upside is that the robot space isn’t too crowded, so you can interact with each robot.
- Place: Museum of Science and Industry
- Address: 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago IL 60637
- Price: $29 ($18 for basic museum entry + $11 for Robot Revolution)
- Favorite Part: Robot Revolution, on display through Jan. 3, 2016
- Rating: 5 out of 5 for special exhibits (2 out of 5 for basic museum entry)