Robot Tears, Robot Belly Buttons

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By Laura

I continued our investigation of robots this week with another small group. I’ve really enjoyed learning children’s ideas about how robots are similar and different form humans, how they interact with people and how they express their emotions. Here are some snippets from our discussion today.


VG: Do you want to see my robot? This is the body. . . . And the head.

Laura: Does your robot have any buttons? Sometimes robots have buttons.

WG: Belly buttons!

Laura: Do robots have belly buttons??

WG: Yes. Sometimes they do.


AH: I putted tears on it, just for fun.

Laura: Oh, really, your robot’s crying? What does your robot do when it’s feeling sad?

AH: I don’t know. . . . He probably cries out oil.

WG: Yeah, mine does that, too, because he always drinks too much oil. . . . When he’s so sad he cries oil.

Laura: What does he do to help his feelings change?

WG: He drinks more oil. Because one of his motor’s broke. But then he drinks more oil and it’s okay!



Laura: How does your robot show when he’s feeling sad?

LDB: Well, he actually never gets sad.

Laura: He never gets sad. Does it have any emotions? Joy? Or . . .

LDB: Love.

Laura: Oh, love. How does your robot show love?

LDB: His eyes turn into hearts. And the hearts when he’s looking at people it makes the people go, like, ‘I wanna marry him.’

Laura: Does he do that to the people he wants to marry?

LDB: Yeah!



WG: His leg moved! Beep.

Laura: That makes his leg move?

WG: Yeah, this button. And this one does this. . . . And this one does this . . .  Look! Christmasasorus has eyes and mouth on his bottom. . . . The eyes on the bottom moved. . . . The eyes on the top moved. He can do anything. And so does his friend.



AH: It’s frowning.

Laura: Oh, is it sad?

AH: No.

Laura: What does your robot cat feel?

AH: Happy!

Laura: It frowns when it’s happy?

AH: It’s saying, ‘I’m so happy I’m frowning.’



VG: Look! This is the whole body! Arms and legs.

Laura: How does your robot show when it’s feeling sad?

VG: Nothing.

Laura: How about when it wants to show love? What does your robot do?

VG: Throw a fit!



LDB: This are the little lights on its head.

Laura: What do those do?

LDB: Those make it so it can see in the dark. . . . It has no buttons.

Laura: No buttons? So it does it automatic?

LDB: Yeah. No, somebody drives it inside.

Laura: A human is inside the robot?

LDB: Yeah. Somebody drives it. There’s a little door for the person to get in. But he stays in there forever. He goes, like, do-do-do-do [traces the path of the person walking up the leg of the robot and into it’s chest]. He has to stay in there forever because he’s locked in there forever.

Laura: Does he want to be in there?

LDB: Yeah. He wants to be in there forever.

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