English

7th February 2003 at 00:00
Fiction helps us come to terms with new ideas and writers have long been aware of robots. Karel Capek first named them in his 1920 play, RUR (Rossum's Universal Robots). The Czech word robota means "work" or "drudgery". Capek's robots, unlike Roomba, rose against their masters.

At KS2-3 there is plenty of scope for examining the genre. Look at writers such as Ray Bradbury (www.raybradbury.com) and Isaac Asimov (www.asimovonline.com). Bradbury's stories engage the imagination - domestic appliances and agricultural machines revolt against humans and robotised houses survive their inhabitants. Asimov is dry, intellectual, but lays down the ground rules for the genre. See The Three Laws of Robotics.

As a stimulus for creative work, don't forget Douglas Trumbull's film Silent Running.

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