Picture from What These Two Very Different Robots Can Teach Your Kids
Two robots of very different designs competed for box office dollars this past weekend. And while they look very different, if you see both films you'll discover they have much in common. "Tars" from Interstellar is on the left, and "Baymax" from Big Hero 6 is on the right. Image ©Disney (Baymax), Paramount (Tars)

What These Two Very Different Robots Can Teach Your Kids

A story element in the opening scenes of Big Hero 6 has a young character battling robots. It was an ironic circumstance that had this movie, featuring a marshmellow-like robot named Baymax, ended up head-to-head with Interstellar, another sci-fi where a robot called Tars plays a critical role in the plot.  The two mechanical characters couldn’t be more different in appearance. Baymax is a soft, inflatable robot that reminds me of those air mattresses I buy every year to sleep unfortunate visitors who arrive at our home. One wrong move and hisssssss. On the other hand, Tars is a hard, faceless, possibly stainless steel machine that appears impenetrable and would definitely leave some scratches on your hardwood floors.

But what’s interesting is how these two robots end up fulfilling a very similar role in their respective stories. Going into detail would risk spoiling these two fine movies, but it’s a great exercise in recognizing how we view robots and people by their outward appearance. Fortunately both these films are possible viewing choices for teens (Interstellar is not a good choice for young children) and parents who view these as well have a great opportunity to talk about the robots and their respective duties and contributions to the outcome of the movie.

Another activity parents may want to try is having your kids come up with their own creative robot designs. You may want to discuss how we would feel being “saved” by Tars versus Baymax and if it is important to design a robot to be aesthetically pleasing or if a robot’s functionality should be our only concern?

With the imaginations of movie creators, I’m certain we will be seeing more inventive robots in the near future.

More details about the movies mentioned in this post…

Interstellar

Interstellar

Hope may only be possible in the vastness of space.

Big Hero 6

Big Hero 6

Just because he's inflatable doesn't mean he's an airhead.

Robots

Robots

I, Robot

I, Robot

Robot and Frank

Robot and Frank

Real Steel

Real Steel

Astro Boy

Astro Boy

Robocop (2014)

Robocop (2014)

Crime fighters in the future are a hybrid of human and robot

Bicentennial Man

Bicentennial Man

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Never trust a beautiful face.

Terminator Salvation

Terminator Salvation

Short Circuit

Short Circuit