Finch Robot Loan Program

Overview

At Birdbrain Technologies we are firm believers that all kids should have the chance to learn coding and computational thinking skills. We aim to provide diverse access to our robots and get them in front of all students, so they can begin to imagine, create, and expand their exposure to computer science.

The Finch robot loan program is one avenue for us to broaden the reach of our robots and inspire young coders across the country. The program began in 2014 as a contribution to Computer Science Education Week and Code.org's Hour of Code initiative. Our goal was to catalyze coding and computer science learning experiences for students who might not ordinarily have the opportunity to program a robot as part of their typical classroom experience. During 2014 we loaned out hundreds of Finch robots to school districts across the country and reached over 15,000 students. Building on the success of our initial loan program, in 2015 we are expanding the program to serve not only schools, but also libraries.

The school program will continue in a similar manner to 2014. We will loan out six sets of 40 robots monthly until the end of the 2014-2015 school year. The program will then continue for the 2015-2016 school year. We anticipate that the robots will be used by over 20,000 more students! 

In an effort to expand the reach of our robots, this year we are introducing a new facet to the loan program, to serve libraries. Currently the Chicago Public Library and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh have fleets of robots available for public use. We are excited to see what other libraries around the country can do with the Finches! A total of 250 robots will be loaned out in this pilot program. We will be asking requesting organizations to explain in what format the loan program can best suit the needs of their populations. For organizations that demonstrate robust and engaging activities that reach underserved populations, the program can be converted from loan to own, and we will donate the robots permanently to support the organizations' outreach efforts.

To ensure that teachers, librarians, and volunteers are prepared to use the Finches when they arrive, we are creating a number of sample activities in the spirit of the Hour of Code project. Our activities will take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours to complete, and are designed to be accessible to anyone, even novice programmers. We strongly encourage loan program participants to contribute their own activities, so that the knowledge base around using the Finches continues to grow.

We hope that the Finch robot loan program will enage and inspire kids around the country to learn coding and computational thinking skills. Please encourage your schools and libraries to apply now!