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What's a Robot Anyway?

I remember many years ago, probably 10 or so at this point, watching a little dog play around the living room of my sister-in-law's apartment. The dog had a ball that it loved to fetch. It very clearly let you know its mood. It napped and it played. It stretched and it did tricks. Sounds like most any dog you know, right? Wrong. This dog had no fur to pet and no tongue to slobber all over you. It was AIBO, the robotic dog manufactured by Sony from 1999 until 2006.

The name AIBO stands for Artificial Intelligence roBOt. And that's what AIBO is. He's fun to play with because he does actually learn. He has intelligence. He's just not very cuddly. But he's a fascinating little guy, and he is one example of what is possible in the broader fascinating field of Robotics. In our latest book by Kathy Ceceri, Robotics: Discover the Science and Technology of the Future, we explore one of the most exciting fields in technology today. Kids of all interests and abilities will come up with creative solutions to tricky problems and marvel at the working robots they make themselves.

Lessons in “What it Takes”: Taking Notes on the Olympics to Improve Classroom Learning

It sounds cliché but there’s really nothing more inspiring than the human interest story about the athlete who overcomes all obstacles—drugs, poverty, war, illness, you name it—to be a medal contender, and sometimes gold medal winner, in the Olympic games. Every two years, when the Olympics dominate every news and sports channel on the television and Internet, we are once again reminded of what it takes to be accomplished at something. Goal setting. Daily training regiments. Staying positive despite setbacks. This is what the Olympics are all about, right?

As spectators we’re engaged in the athletes’ stories and we anticipate their outcomes. We all have our favorites of course—our favorite sport to watch and our favorite athlete or team. I always find it surprising that, when it comes to the Olympics, something as boring as, say, canoeing (no offense to Olympic canoeing hopefuls!) suddenly captivates me.

The Circus is in Town!

You don’t need to muster up any courage to run off and join this circus act. If you live in New England, you’d be a fool not to! This year’s Circus Smirkus theme is “Topsy Turvy Time Travel.” You’ll want to take your kids to be part of the spectacle, because let’s be honest, what better epitomizes childhood than a circus?!

Never heard of Circus Smirkus? As a Vermont-based company we’re proud to say that Circus Smirkus, one of the most well-known traveling youth circuses in the world, has its roots right here in the Green Mountains.

Rivers and Ponds

Hello to all STEM Friday readers! We're excited to add to this week's roundup a new title from Nomad Press that will be coming out later this summer. Explore Rivers and Ponds! with 25 Great Projects is full of opportunities for young scientists to get outside and get investigating! Filled with hands-on activities, Rivers and Ponds will keep kids engaged as they learn about what is happening in different freshwater habitats, watch the water cycle at work, track what is living in different bodies of water in their own neighborhoods, see density in action, measure stream speed, test erosion and absorption, and learn how to keep their own drinking water clean and safe.

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