By Edward Cardenas
DETROIT (CBS Detroit) – The newest Michigan Science Center employee can shake hands, fist bump and mimic the dance from “Saturday Night Fever,” but is only as mobile as his extension cord.
Baxter, a two armed robot, autonomous robot on loan from Magna, can be “taught” to interact with science center visitors. He is part of the MiSci’s “Robot Lab,” supported by Quicken Loans in the newly dedicated ITC Gallery, which opens to the public on Saturday.
“We are really trying to get folks interested, excited and competent about working with robots, coding and programming in a fun way,” said Dr. Tonya Matthews, president and CEO of the Michigan Science Center. “This is what we do at the science center. We make science, technology engineering and math okay for everybody.”
The opening of the new exhibit Saturday coincides with Ford Family Free Day, which offers free general admission to the center from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. with special activities for families and educators.
In addition to Baxter, visitors to the lab can learn the basics of computer language, manipulate Finch robots and compete in daily robot challenges.
Other science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) themed exhibits and activities offered at the Michigan Science Center include:
- The IMAX film “Journey to Space,” which features interviews with astronauts and showcases past, present and future accomplishments in space travel. It is narrated by Patrick Stewart, and features footage from space.
- “Nano,” a hands-on exhibit featuring the basics of nanoscience and engineering. Activities include building a giant carbon nanotube and exploring small magnetic materials.
- MiSci’s Summer Science Camps which run June 22 through Aug. 21. The camps will cover topics like marine biology, movie making, anatomy, robotics, dinosaurs and more.
Having STEM related exhibits at the science center can help inspire and increase the number of students prepared for college-level science courses, official state.
“It is really important that we think about our future,” said Gregory Ioanidis, ITC vice president and Michigan Science Center Board member. “It really starts here, it starts with kids, it starts with the Michigan Science Center.”
MiSci will be open with extended hours during the summer, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.