COG by Greg Van Eekhout is a juvenile fiction book probably best for grades 3-5.
What do you get when a trashbot, a robot dog, and two extremely lifelike automatons steal a smart car? Five allies on a mission with very little real world experiences.
Cog looks like your everyday twelve-year-old, except that his name stands for “Cognitive Development” and he’s a robot built to learn. When a “bad experience” leaves him injured and unconscious, Cog wakes up separated from the only human he has ever known. Now the scientists at UNImind want to take out his brain and study him and Cog thinks this is a very bad idea.
Along with some unusual allies, Cog breaks out of UNImind in search of his creator, Gina. But little does he know, that he is the cog that keeps the wheels turning and the hunt is on for him and his friends.
Will Cog find Gina? And will he escape UNImind’s nefarious clutches?
- What is this book about? What are the main themes?
- COG stands for Cognitive Development. What does this mean and how does this make Cog different from other robots?
- Cog learns during his trip to the supermarket that sometimes the best way to increase his cognitive development is to learn from his mistakes. Why is this a good/bad technique for learning? Have you ever had to learn from a big mistake?
- Why do you think Gina created Cog and Ada to be twelve-years-old instead of adults?
- If you had to pick one of the robots to be, which would you be and why?
- Gina creates Cog with a special X-Module embedded in his programming. What is the X-Module and how does Cog use it to get out of trouble throughout the book?
- UNImind wants to control the worlds technology, how does Cog use his experiences to overtake UNImind’s primary directive?
- One of the main themes of this novel is the ability to choose—to have a choice. Why is this such an important theme and how does the author portray it in the novel?
- The world this book takes place in, seems both similar and more advanced then our current society. Would you rather live in a high tech or low tech society? Why?
- What did you think of the ending? Is there anything you would change?
STEM Activity: DIY Robotic Hand
Supplies: Construction Paper or Cardstock; drinking straws; Yarn or heavy string; Tape; Scissors. Optional: large knitting needle.
-Trace your hand on the cardstock. If you have a tiny hand, you may want to trace an adults hand so you have more to work with. Cut out your hand.
-Put your hand back on and make marks where your finger joints are on the paper. Fold at the joint marks.
-Cut the straws to the length of your finger segments. (Hint: four of your fingers have three segments and your thumb has two.) In total you should have 14 straw pieces for your fingers.
-Cut 6 more straws about an inch and a half in length. And a few extra about half an inch in length.
-Starting with the fingers, tape your straws to the hand with just a small space between each straw. Your paper hand should look like it’s starting to get a skeleton. You may need to play around with how they are laid and the length of the straws, depending on the size of the hand you are using.
-Once taped, you are going to take your yarn and make a big knot at the end of it. Start threading your yarn or string through the straws, starting at the tip of the finger. The knot should be at the tip of the finger, keeping the yarn from pulling out of the straw. Repeat this for each finger until all five strings are come out through the single “wrist bone” straw. Do not pull the strings tight. Keep them loose for now.
-Now, when you are ready, you can slowly pull the strings. The fingers of your hand should move. You can pull all the strings at once or one string at a time.
This activity gets kids thinking about how the various parts of the human body functions. We’re using the activity as an engineering experiment but it can also be used to talk about the human skeleton and how joints and bones work together to move our bodies.
How’d it go:
This was maybe too complicated of an activity for the virtual world but we had fun and we had a few new faces too!
That’s all for now!