Families@RSS


Our mission is to support members of the RSS community with children in their lives and enable their increased participation in RSS. RSS is committed to facilitating the participation in the conference by parents and families. We recognize that it can be tough to balance professional travel with kids, and we want to offer families options to make things work.

Caregivers and Children

For families who bring their children along with their own caregiver, Boston is a wonderful destination for families and kids. Below is a list of suggested activities that are easily accessible from Kendall Square, the T stop closest to the conference venue. We are creating a signup for caregivers who wish to be connected with each other to organize group activities. Caregivers and kids are welcome at the RSS poster session and are welcome to partake in all the food.

We will also have a lab tour of MIT focused on kids, that will include “hands on” demos of Baxter and the Aibo robot puppy, that you can sign up for at the registration desk.

Parent Networking

We will have an informal networking lunch for parents at RSS on Thursday. Anyone who has an interest in kids and robotics, whether or not they are bringing their kids to the conference, is welcome to attend. We will meet outside Kresge at lunch break and walk over to a lunch place shortly after (around 12:15pm). Look for the sign “Families @ RSS Lunch” to join us. Note that the lunch is not covered by RSS; everyone will pay their own.

Lactation Rooms and Changing Tables

MIT has several lactation rooms available on campus. We are also providing lactation rooms at Kresge (the conference venue) and the Stata Center (the workshop venue). Ask at the registration desk for more information about these RSS specific lactation rooms. Please contact the conference organizers if you have questions or need additional resources.

Poster Sessions

Families and caregivers are welcome to attend both poster sessions and enjoy the food. We will have a kid’s table with robotics-focused activities for kids of different ages, including a very special sneak preview of Barefoot Books’ upcoming title, “My Friend Robot.” Unfortunately we are not able to invite families to the banquet on Friday unless they purchase an extra banquet ticket.

Kid-Focused Lab Tours

We will have two kid-focused lab tours of MIT robotics labs.

On Wednesday at 5:30pm we invite you to visit Cynthia Breazeal’s lab, which has a variety of fun kid-friendly robots. Afterwards you can head back to the Stata Center for the RSS Poster session. Spots are limited and advance signup is required here.

On Thursday at 5:30pm we invite you to visit Nicholas Roy’s lab for a singing Baxter and robotic programming demonstration appropriate for children 18 months and up. Afterwards you can head downstairs to the RSS poster session. Spots are limited and advance signup is required here.

Behind-the-Scenes Tour of the Museum of Science Popnology Exhibit

We have arranged a behind-the-scenes tour of the Museum of Science Popnology exhibit at 4pm on Friday. You will still have to pay the entrance fee to get into the Museum, but note that MOS has reciprocal arrangements with many other science museums.

The best way to get there from MIT is to take the Cambridgeside Galleria shuttle from Kendall Square, and then it’s a short walk from the Galleria.

It’s a special exhibit on the study of popular culture. However, somehow, they decided this means robots! The exhibit features a number of real robots, including a Baxter and several that you can teleoperate to pick up blocks and things, as well as toy robots through the ages, as well as fictional robots. It also includes one of the original DeLorians from the Back to the Future movies.

MOS has many other exhibits as well. (Don’t miss the giant Van De Graff generators!) It’s open until 9pm on Fridays and has a reasonably nice cafeteria on site with a great view of the Charles River.

There will be enough spots for everyone who wants to go, but they asked us to divide into groups of 10, so we ask that you sign up in case enough of you sign up that we need to split you into subgroups.

Mailing Lists

We have created an opt-in mailing list for caregivers who are attending RSS with children to coordinate on robotics activities. Sign up here for this discussion list. We also created an announcement list; sign up here. Use the discussion list to coordinate activities with other RSS attendees who are traveling with their kids!

Organizers

Stefanie Tellex, Brown University
Cynthia Matuszek, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Maya Cakmak, University of Washington
Hadas Kress-Gazit, Cornell University
Matt Walter, Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago

Activities for caregivers and kids

Boston is a great place to explore with young children. Below are some of our favorite activities that are accessible from the Red Line (the closest T-stop to the conference).

  • Frog Pond. Boston Common is accessible from the Red Line. Get on the Kendall Square T-stop going outbound and get off at Park Street. The Frog Pond is a short walk from the T stop on Boston common. It’s a giant shallow pond that kids can swim in. There is also a playground and splash pad next to it, and a carousel. Bring a bathing suit!
  • The Greenway. The Greenway is a park that was created as a result of the Big Dig, which buried the I-93 expressway. It is a linear park that goes through downtown Boston. There are lots of fountains for water play, including a very large one near the New England Aquarium. You can get on it by getting off the Red Line at Downtown Crossing and then walking. Our favorite activity is to walk along the Greenway in our bathing suits, fountain-hopping all the way. There is also a carousel with animals drawn from Massachusetts native wildlife. (Ride on a lobster or a redtail hawk!) You can stop at Christopher Columbus Park for another splash pad and a playground, as well as great views of Boston Harbor.
  • Museum of Science. The Museum of Science is a world-renowned science museum. Right now it has a wonderful exhibit called “Popnology” which has a great lineup of fictional and real robots, including robot arms that you can teleoperate to pick up blocks. You can reach it by taking the shuttle to the Galleria Mall from the Kendall Square T-stop. The Museum is a short walk from the Galleria. Duck Tours also pick up here.
  • Children’s Museum. The Children’s Museum is located a short walk from South Station on the Red Line. Among many other things, they have exhibits featuring Boston roboticists such as the RoboBee project.
  • Spectacle Island. The Boston Harbor Islands are accessible by ferry from a terminal near the New England Aquarium. You can reach the terminal by getting off at Downtown Crossing or South Station. The ferry ride to Spectacle Island takes about 30 minutes and is a great and reasonably priced way to get out on the water. Spectacle Island is our favorite, because it has bathrooms and a beach with swimming. If you are motivated you can hike to the top of one of the drumlins for the best kite-flying in Boston. The gift shop on the island sells soft kites that work great. The island is also a great place for airplane spotting, and the top of the drumlin has a great view of Logan Airport and Boston Harbor. Plan on a full day for this one.
  • New England Aquarium. The Aquarium is a popular attraction right on the harbor, featuring penguins, fur seals, and the Giant Ocean Tank with Myrtle the Green Sea Turtle. You can reach it by walking from Downtown Crossing or South Station.
  • MIT Museum. This is a short walk from the conference venue up Massachusetts Avenue. The activities are mainly geared toward older kids; the memorabilia of hacks and the hologram exhibits are very popular.
  • Savin Hill Park. This urban park features a playground and a swimming beach just five minutes from the Red Line Savin Hill stop. You can reach it from Kendall Square but note that you have to get on the Ashmont line (not Braintree). Wait for an “Ashmont train.”

If you are looking for activities near the conference venue, Kresge Oval in front of the main area is a grassy space that is good for running around and playing. At the Stata Center, there is a green field just outside called Northcourt. It has a red statue that is fun to climb on. It’s fun to take kids down the Infinite Corridor on MIT’s main campus, and also to walk along the Memorial drive path and look at the river.