MSI kicks off national robotics week activities

Meccano is one of the many robots now on display during MSI Robotics Week April 8-15. -Specer Bibbs

Staff Writer

The Museum of Science and Industry (MSI), 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr., kicked off its first weekend in celebration of National Robotics Week, Saturday, April 8.

Kathleen McCarthy, director of collections and head curator at MSI said it’s an opportunity for guest to interact and learn more about robots through a variety of activities and competitions. Robots according to McCarthy, will in the future become an integral part of life.

“What’s really interesting is that robots are going to be more and more involved in our lives,” McCarthy said. “What [guests] will see here is a precursor to that. The technology is developing and soon they’ll be our companions in the classroom. You’ll have them in your home at your workplace as sort of a companion and helper.”

Steven Jiang operates a robotic maze. -Specer Bibbs

One of the larger activities featured on Saturday was a drone racing demonstration. Trained pilots, student and university teams operated drones six inches in diameter around an obstacle course of sorts.

McCarthy said the activity is geared to get the conversation going about drones.

This is the museum’s seventh year participating in National Robotics Week. McCarthy said she wants MSI to become the place where people come to learn about robots.

“We really want to be Chicago’s hub for robotics,” she said adding that in the coming weeks MSI will be unveiling Robot Revolution a traveling exhibit.

Also key according to McCarthy, is to make MSI a resource for those interested in careers in Robotics. She said the exhibit is also a great opportunity for those thinking about a career in Robotics to come in and talk with people that are actually doing it.

Jason Washburn and his son Auden check out Paro, a robotic companion therapy seal for people in need. The robot mimics behaviors of a house pet. -Specer Bibbs

Attendees can interact with some robots including PARO, the furry baby seal therapy robot, and Sphero; the speedy robotic ball guests control with an app. Demonstrations from hobbyist and university and after-school robotics programs will also take place on select days during National Robotics Weeks.

Robots designed by Chicago-area student amateur teams will be on display, and guests can watch a live robotics competition. Other activities include make-your-own robot antenna and discover your robot name.

All activities are included in Museum Entry, which is $18 for adults and $11 for kids 3-11 years old.

National Robotics Week at MSI resumes Friday, April 14 through Saturday, April 15.

For more information visit