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University of Iowa News Release


May 27, 2010
UI offers 'Overhead Bots' workshops at Children's Museum, Iowa Arts Festival

Kids will have the opportunity to design and build robots during a series of upcoming workshops sponsored by the University of Iowa Delta Center and the National Science Foundation.

The young inventors will create tiny robots using simple analog circuitry and environmentally friendly solar cells. They'll decorate the robots with colorful embellishments; then, the robots will be placed on overhead projectors, where the light will bring them to life. As the autonomous creatures move around, vibrant art will be projected onto the walls for all to enjoy. After the activity, children can take their robots home.

The Overhead Bots workshop will be offered from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 6, at the Iowa City Public Library as part of the Iowa Arts Festival. To register for the event, contact Debbie Dunn at

Additional workshops will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays, June 13 and June 20, at the Iowa Children's Museum in Coral Ridge Mall. To register, call Iowa Children's Museum Director Deb Dunkhase at 319-625-6255, ext. 210 or e-mail Museum admission is free to registered participants.

Children ages 8 and up can participate; registration and adult chaperones are required.

The workshops are free, thanks to a National Science Foundation grant to the Delta Center. Additional support is provided by the Delta Center through the Spelman-Rockefeller fund of the UI Obermann Center for Advanced Studies.

"It's a great opportunity for active learning," said UI Psychology Professor John Spencer, director of the Delta Center. "And it's a perfect example of how art and science can come together. Whether you're creating a sculpture or solving a scientific problem, you're actively using your body and mind to make new discoveries."

The workshops will be led by Christian Faubel, a postdoctoral researcher at the Institut für Neuroinformatik in Bochum, Germany. Faubel developed the concept in collaboration with artist Ralf Schreiber. Faubel and Schreiber debuted their installation at the Festival for Forgotten Media in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2005, and have exhibited it at many museums, including the Centre Pompidou in Paris, France. For more information, see

"One of the goals of the National Science Foundation is to bring science out to the community," said Spencer, a faculty member in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "It's a fantastic model for making science applicable to real life, and it should be a lot of fun."

For information on the Iowa Children's Museum, visit Delta Center information is available at, and Obermann Center information is available at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Deb Dunkhase, Iowa Children's Museum, 319-625-6255, ext. 210,; John Spencer, UI Department of Psychology, 319-335-2482,; Nicole Riehl, University News Services, 319-384-0070,