Apply today to borrow some Finch robots, a perfect companion for computer science education!
Earlier this year BirdBrain Technologies loaned out 500 Finch robots to schools/libraries across the country to catalyze computer science activities.
They are expanding the program once again: loaning out 750 Finches in total for use from October 2015 to August 2016. They have made a number of modifications to the program: you can now request to borrow as few as ten robots, and you can keep the robots for two months (or longer, if properly justified). Participation is completely free.
The Finch robot is an engaging tool for learning programming and computational thinking. It has support for over a dozen programming languages, including environments appropriate for students as young as eight years old. With light, temperature, and obstacle sensors, buzzers, LEDs, accelerometers, and even a pen mount for drawing, the options are limitless!
In the past year, BirdBrain Technologies has sent sets of 50 Finch robots to over 70 schools to use for one month. The program has allowed tens of thousands of students to learn programming and robotics.
They are pleased to announce that they are re-opening the school loan program for 2015.
This year they are excited to expand the loan program to include libraries. Libraries can apply to receive 6 or more Finches for 3 to 9 months, with possibility of converting the loan into a permanent donation.
There's still time to register for the Three Rivers Educational Technology Conference on Nov. 17th & 18th. TRETC is the premier K-16 educational technology conference in Western Pennsylvania. Over 350 educators from K-12 schools, higher education and non-profits come to the event. In addition, each year over 30 vendors showcase their new technologies.
CREATE Lab has been featured in the past at TRETC and this year, the Hummingbird and Finch will be part of the Maker Space and will be part of Breakout Session B: Featured Presentation – Ball Room – 11:10 am – 12:10 pm
Presenter: Zee Poerio, K-8 Computer Teacher, St. Louise de Marillac Catholic School
Presentation Title: EdTech Takes the Runway at TRETC: Trends to Rock your Classroom Style
Description: This session will present trending APPS and tools in a fast-paced, fashion show format. Learn how to engage your students, stimulate creativity, foster collaboration, and encourage deeper learning while putting your teaching style in a class of its own.
The Visual Programmer software has been updated to enable you to choose the directory where your Visual Programmer files are stored. So, when a student launches the app, the first thing they'll do is go to the settings tab to tell the app where to store and find his/her files.
For Windows, you will need to un-install and re-install the software to activate these changes. For Mac, you will just need to drag the new software into your Applications folder and let it overwrite the old one.
The Installation and Connection Guide can be found HERE
Standalone versions are available for Mac, Windows and Ubuntu Linux. The Web Start version has been discontinued. If you have the Web Start version it will continue to work but you will be prompted to download the new version upon launching the program. A zip file version is also available for Linux users and users with complicated installation scenarios.
The software now automatically checks for updates every time the application is launched. If an update is available, the Settings tab (the one with the gear icon) will provide a link to download the latest version. To upgrade, simply download the latest version and repeat the installation steps. Your saved Expressions and Sequences will not be affected.
Java SE 6 or newer is still need to run the software and can be downloaded HERE
An updated version of the Installation and Connection Guide can be found HERE.
Installation Instructions for the Standalone Version:
1. Make sure you have Java SE 6 or later installed.
3. Click the appropriate Download button for your robot (Hummingbird or Finch) and operating system (Mac OS, Windows, or Ubuntu Linux).
• Mac OS: you will download a disk image file (.dmg). Double-click it to mount and open the disk image. Once it is open, simply drag the Visual Programmer application to your computer’s Applications folder. Once it has copied, you may eject the disk image.
• Windows: you will download an installer file (.msi). Double-click to open it and follow the installation wizard steps to install the Visual Programmer.
• Ubuntu Linux: you will download a package file (.deb). Double-click to open it and then select Install Package.
5. Running the Visual Programmer software:
• Mac: double click the CREATE Lab Visual Programmer application in your Applications folder.
• Windows: select the CREATE Lab Visual Programmer application in the Start menu, or double-click the icon on your Desktop.
Come program Finch robots and Hummingbird kit creations at this weeks mini maker faire at the Children's Museum in Pittsburgh. We will have four laptops set up to allow kids and adults of all ages to try out these robots with some no-experience-necessary programming environments.
On Wednesday, May 23, 2012, PENNSYLVANIA ASSOCIATION FOR EDUCATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS & TECHNOLOGY (PAECT) SouthWestern Chapter held its first Regional Event. This “Taste of Technology” TECH and TELL was held at St. Louise de Marillac School in (Upper St. Clair) Pittsburgh, PA from 5:00 P.M. – 7:00 P.M.
Zee Ann Poerio, Technology Teacher for K-8 at St. Louise de Marillac, was the host and event chair. Ken Klase, principal of St. Louise de Marillac School welcomed everyone and Dr. Shirley Campbell, Past President of PAECT, thanked everyone for attending.
Following a light technology themed dinner with APPetizers, BYTE sized sandwiches, computer potato CHIPS to munch, and COOKIES, the attendees were invited to a visit a student showcase which featured technology from Carnegie Mellon University’s CREATE Lab. http://www.cmucreatelab.org/ An exhibit featuring a Robotic Ancient Coin made by the STL Student Technology Team using the ARTS & BOTS (formerly Robot Diaries) - Hummingbird Kit was displayed for human robot interaction. Also, 8th grade student, Tom W., invited attendees to attempt challenges he programmed for the FINCH, another robotic device. A GigaPan was on display along with a large print for attendees to post comments. Jillian G. and Francesca G., eighth grade students, also volunteered at the event. They demonstrated how Turning Technologies http://www.turningtechnologies.com/ response devices or “clickers” can be used in the classroom, and they assisted in registering teachers with EDMODO http://www.edmodo.com/ accounts to prepare for the workshop.
Dan Plesco of Direct Tech Solutions explained the benefits of using a Meraki Wireless Access Point. The access point was installed that day and attendees were able to see how quickly schools could benefit from the technology. SWPAECT members presented the attendees with a “taste of technology” that they could put to use in the upcoming school year. Attendees learned how to power their classes with EDMODO http://www.edmodo.com/ (Zee Ann Poerio, K-8 Technology Teacher), engage their students with the new SMART Notebook 11 http://smarttech.com/notebook11 (Brandie Boback, Certified SMART Trainer), and use Twitter http://twitter.com/ for the Classroom and PD (Silvina Orsatti, IT Specialist.) The session ended with a TECH & TELL where attendees shared their favorite web tools.
Thanks to the following organizations for donating these fantastic door prizes:
Smart SolutionTechnologies, L.P. Smart Board Interactive Whiteboard SB680 Smart Board or Smart Response Training http://smarterguys.com/
Special thanks to Dom Salvucci who joined us via SKYPE to share his experiences with Edmodo, Jana Baxter of SW PAECT, St. Louise de Marillac School administration and staff, and Theresa Enyeart, Toni Luvara, and Jean Rowles for their help on the day of the event. This event was FREE for PAECT Members and $5.00 for Non–Members. Attendees received PA ACT 48 credit and left with “cookies” (to eat) and great ideas to share with their colleagues and use immediately in their classrooms.
Photos from this event can be viewed here: (Created with ANIMOTO http://animoto.com/ another great web tool!)
Submitted by Zee Ann Poerio, SW PAECT Member (Event Planning Committee) Teacher, St. Louise de Marillac Catholic School