While I seem to have lost most of my childhood memories, there are a few that still remain. Interestingly, many of them involve robots. This is my attempt to preserve these memories.
Robot Story 1 – The Engineer:
When I was 5 or 6 years old, I got the idea that I wanted to build a robot. I remember planning it all out in my head: it would have a body, and arms, and it would be really big, and have wires inside so it could move, and it would talk, and it would have a light bulb on the top. I couldn’t wait to build my robot, but I didn’t have the materials to do it. So I put together a list of materials, complete with hand-drawn descriptive pictures, and asked my dad to pick the items up for me at work. He agreed, and thus my plan to build a robot was initiated.
I waited with all the anticipation of an excited little child for my dad to come home that day, but when he arrived I found out that he had forgotten to pick up the materials. I was sad, but he promised he would get them the next day. So again I waited, barely able to contain my excitement when his van pulled up the house. Yes! He had remembered. But he wasn’t able to find the exact things I had asked for, and so had made a few substitutions. That was okay, I just wanted to build my robot!
I carried everything into the garage, and began the construction. A large cardboard box made up the legs. An upside-down 5-gallon bucket was the body. An emptied-out plastic flower pot was placed on top as the head. Long pieces of Styrofoam were taped on to the body as arms. Lots of masking tape helped hold the whole thing together. It was great. It was so tall I was going to have to stand on a bucket to put the wires in my robot’s head, and to connect the light bulb on top.
This is where the story gets a little sad. It wasn’t until I actually began placing the wires in my robot, that I realized it was going to take more than wires and a light bulb to make him move and talk. Yes, I had seen pictures of robots before, and they always had wires, but what did wires do? How was a wire in a pot going to help an arm made of Styrofoam and masking tape move? I was suddenly baffled and overwhelmed. What had been so clear and obvious only seconds earlier, now seemed absolutely impossible. I think it was one of the most profound moments of realization of my childhood… at least that’s how I remember it.
Well, I didn’t give up. I finished my robot, but it didn’t do everything I was hoping for. It stood in the garage for a few days, and then it was completely disassembled (so that it could do no further harm to humanity).
Scott didn’t stop building things after that first robot. No, he went on to become a full-fledged electrical engineer, building other super-amazing things such as: a small fan, a marble-chute, and a pop-up book. But nothing he ever built has come as close to meeting its design specifications as that robot.