Robots Are Not Just for Computer Labs Anymore

Tom Lauwers, founder of BirdBrain Technologies, may not be a English or a History teacher but he has no problem understanding how programming or robots could easily lend themselves to enhance that curriculum. That’s why he is very excited to launch this Kickstarter campaign for Hummingbird Duo.
Hummingbird is a spin off of BirdBrain Technologies, developed out of Carnegie Mellon in 2010, by Tom after earning his PhD in robotics- with a focus on educational robotics. They first developed “The Finch” a programmable robot for schools that introduced concepts to elementary and middle school students. Although it is a great way to expose students to programming concepts, Lauwers wanted to make the learning even more hands-on.
The first version of the Hummingbird kit is available to teachers and students now. The kit comes with different parts, like LED lights, sensors and controller boards and allow for students to combine them with arts and crafts materials to make their own robots. After running the beta a pilot programs, it quickly became obvious that not only could this kit be used in computer and engineering classes or in after school programs, but it could easily be integrated into any classroom- creating the bridge between traditional curriculum and 21st century learning.
This week Hummingbird launched the kickstarter campaign for the Hummingbird Duo, to add many of the features teachers who are using the first kit are asking for- including the addition of the Arduino mode. By adding Arduino compatibility, the kit can now be used in high school, college level and even beyond. For teachers looking to add this level of creativity to their classrooms, currently there are online tutorials and virtual training workshops available for directions on how to use the kits- while they continue to build their community of Hummingbird ambassadors who will cover the different parts of the country and provide in person training.
To find out more details of what is included in the kit and how to purchase one, see the full press release below. Also, take a few minutes to check out how these students brought poetry to life – with “Robot Poetry Theater.


Electronics kit is equally challenging and fun for 4th graders, high school students, and adults

Pittsburgh, PA, May 21, 2014 — BirdBrainTechnologies is excited to announce that Hummingbird Duo is launching on Kickstarter. The Hummingbird Duo may be the first electronics kit that is fun and educational for a fourth grader, a high school student, a college engineering student, and an adult maker. The Hummingbird Duo provides several levels of engineering and technology learning. Instead of a steep learning curve, learners progress at increasing skill levels where mastering each level allows one to use the Hummingbird in a new and more interesting way. By participating in the Kickstarter campaign, individuals can purchase the forthcoming Hummingbird Duo at a pre-launch price for themselves or provide one to a school of their choice.
The Hummingbird Duo includes many of the features requested by BirdBrainTechnologies’ core community of teachers: Tetherless operation, Arduino mode, and more minor improvements like wheels for motors, solid-ended leads, improved sound sensing, and color-coding of the connectors by function. “We are extremely excited about the Hummingbird Duo’s potential to empower positive classroom experiences and to grow with students as they learn,” said Tom Lauwers, BirdBrainTechnologies founder and co-creator of the Hummingbird. “The Hummingbird Duo is an excellent kit for introducing electronics, robotics, engineering, and programming in any environment: at home, in the classroom, in summer camp, or in a club.”
The Hummingbird Duo controller will be the core of all new Hummingbird Robotics kits. Hummingbird Duo supports programming environments that range from very easy to advanced and powerful. Everything is free, open source, and runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux. The Hummingbird supports CREATE Lab Visual Programmer, Scratch, Snap!, Arduino, Python, Java, and more.
The Hummingbird Robotics Kit was developed as part of Art & Bots, an ongoing research project at Carnegie Mellon University. Compatible with popular maker tools and software like Raspberry Pi, MaKey MaKey, Arduino, and Scratch, Hummingbird introduces students to engineering design, electronics, and programming through an innovative, arts and crafts-based approach that integrates well with the core subjects.
To learn more about BirdBrainTechnologies’ Kickstarter campaign, visit

Alison Anderson

Alison Anderson

Alison Anderson is a Media Specialist at The Madeleine School.

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