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DOUBLE TAB TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET What are they made out of?” Then invite the children to build and experiment with the foil-covered blocks. Observe the children’s play. It may be interesting to note if the foil influences the ways in which the children build and play with blocks. Are the children more likely to build machines or robots when the blocks are shiny and smooth like metal? During or after block play, ask the children, “Which is better for building? Metal or wood? Why do you think so?” As an extension of this activity, the children may be interested in covering some of the blocks with foil themselves. Or they may want to use foil in other ways, to bend and shape and make things. As another extension activity, invite children to compare similar items made out of wood and metal side by side, such as a wooden spoon and a metal spoon. Encourage children to touch and hold the items and compare how they feel in their hands. Which one feels smoother? Which one feels heavier? Which spoon would you rather use to eat your dinner, and why? Activity 1.12 Robots in Real Life Up to this point, you and the children have probably been using the words “robot” and “machine” interchangeably. Now it’s time to offer an activity that will expose children to the idea that a robot is not an ordinary machine. It is programmable. A robot has a brain called a computer (or computer chip, known technically as an integrated circuit). People program a robot by giving it commands. We tell robots what to do. In this activity, you will introduce children to a real robot, a machine with an operating system (a computer) that runs it and tells it what to do. A smartphone, an ATM, and a Roomba (robotic vacuum cleaner) are a few examples that are likely to be present already in the lives of young children. A Roomba is an especially good example of a real robot because it not only has a computer chip or circuit board, but it also moves around. Movement, as you may have observed during some of the previous activities, such as activity 1.5 (Robot Dance Party) is an essential characteristic of a robot. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL WHAT IS A ROBOT? 37