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Friday, January 04, 2013

Robotic kit for kids

The Hummingbird robotics kit is a spin-off product of Carnegie Mellon's CREATE lab. Hummingbird is designed to enable engineering and robotics activities for ages 10 and up that involve the making of robots, kinetic sculptures, and animatronics built out of a combination of kit parts and crafting materials. Combined with a cross-platform, very easy-to-use visual programming environment, Hummingbird provides a great way to introduce kids to robotics and engineering with construction materials that they are already familiar with.

The project began in 2006 as Robot Diaries, which aimed to create an after school engineering and robotics activity that could appeal to middle school girls as much as or more than to boys. Initial pilots with groups of girls, followed by an expanded focus that included both boys and girls as well as teachers and in-school curricula led to a renaming of the project to Arts and Bots and a focus on creating curricula and technologies that integrate arts and crafts with engineering education. The Hummingbird as well as the CREATE Lab's Visual Programmer (the environment used by students to program Hummingbird) have co-evolved with the Arts and Bots program, and will continue to do so.

The CREATE Lab is both a technology breeding ground and a community partner. It is this unique combination that enables a new form of local change: one that empowers the citizens to chart their technology future and, most important of all, their community's prospects for quality of life.

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