FAQs

What is the recommended age for using BirdBrain products?

Adult supervision is required for children 13 and under using any of our products. With supervision, we see kids as young as 8 successfully program and build with the Hummingbird Kit. Care should be taken to correctly connect components to the Hummingbird controller as it is possible to damage the Hummingbird or kit electronics if they’re incorrectly connected. See our tutorial on connecting kit electronics to the Hummingbird controller for more information.

 

The Finch can be programmed by kids as young as 5, using the first levels of Snap!, or all the way up to college-level coding, with programming languages like Java. Our products are designed to be low floor, no ceiling: young students can work with them, but students of any age or experience level will find engaging, educational ways to use them as well.

Are your products open source?

The Hummingbird Duo kit is fully open sourced, including software, firmware, and hardware. The Finch Robot and original Hummingbird Kit have open source software and firmware. Both are licensed from Carnegie Mellon University.

How many schools/classrooms are using your products?

Hundreds of thousands of students around the world have used the Hummingbird and Finch. You can find our robots from Dubai to Australia to Kentucky!

Check out the BirdBrain Professional Learning Network to find educators and trainers near you.

What is the expected lifetime of the equipment?

For both the Finch and the Hummingbird, a very conservative answer is three years, though we expect them to last 5-10 years with ordinary use. Some Hummingbird Kit components (like the LEDs) may become integrated into student projects in ways that make these difficult to remove. You should consider budgeting replacement parts if requesting a multi-year grant. Note that you can purchase and price our kit components a la carte.

What is the recommended student ratio for your products?

We suggest that you use the Finch Robots in pair programming, which means that each Finch is shared by 2 students. We encourage one Hummingbird controller and enough parts to build a robot for every 2-3 students. This way students can specialize on programming, construction, and wiring. Each team also needs access to a computer for programming.

Where can I use the Finch or Hummingbird?

Hummingbirds are used in 4th to 12th grade classrooms in any content area, ranging from music to math and English to ecology! Finches are used from kindergarten to university-level classes as a tool to teach computer science and robotics. Both products are often used in camps and after-school programs.

Are the Hummingbird Kit components reusable?

Short answer: Yes, though it takes a little bit of work. Long answer: Typically, building robots with Hummingbird involves hot-gluing or otherwise attaching components in the kit (LEDs, motors, and sensors) to cardboard, foamcore, or other building materials. This doesn’t mean the kit can’t be reused, just that the someone will need to take apart a Hummingbird Kit-built robot and clean the components. If glue was used, some components, like the LEDs, may not come completely clean, though this isn’t typically a major issue. We sell additional LEDs, motors, and sensors a la carte in the event that a kit component gets too deeply embedded in a robot to remove.

Tip: Wrap your components in masking tape before using hot glue. When you take your robot apart, you can simply pull the tape off instead of having to peel off the glue.

Can I hook up non-kit items to the Hummingbird?

Yes, but read the datasheets in our hardware description to make sure you do not go over the maximum ratings for any of the connectors. Connecting non-kit components can damage your Hummingbird, so do not do so unless you have some expertise with electronics.

What types of computers work with Finch or Hummingbird?

Finch and Hummingbird are supported in Windows XP to 10 and Mac OS 10.6.8 and later. Some of the programming environments for Finch and Hummingbird also work on Chromebooks, Linux, and the Raspberry Pi. The Hummingbird Duo controllers are compatible with iPad 3 or later, as well as Android tablets and Kindle Fires (must purchase a BLE adapter).

I only have tablets in my classroom. What product should I use?

The Hummingbird Robotics Kit is compatible with iOS, Android, and Kindle devices. In order to connect, you must purchase a BLE adapter and download the BirdBlox app. You can find more information here.

What support to do you have for Chromebooks?

Hummingbird and Finch work on Chromebooks using Scratch or Snap! Programming.

Is there a way to use Hummingbird or Finch without attaching it to a computer?

The Hummingbird Duo can be programmed to run independently of a computer using Arduino, Ardublock, or the export feature of the CREATE Lab Visual Programmer. The original Hummingbird board sold before 2015 must be plugged into a computer or Raspberry Pi while running a program. At this time, the Finch Robot must be plugged into a computer or Raspberry Pi to operate.

I’ve never coded before. What kind of resources do you have for beginners?

If you are programming with the Finch Robot, start with Snap! Levels 1-3 to understand the fundamentals of coding. If you are using the Hummingbird Robotics Kit, these Scratch modules are a great way to understand how each piece is connected and programmed.

Do you have any curriculum for your products?

We have NGSS, CCSS, and ISTE standards-aligned projects on our curriculum page. Each project is filtered based on grade level and content area. We also provide objective & learning goals, as well as assessment rubrics.

Does BirdBrain Technologies offer professional development options?

BirdBrain Technologies has an extensive training network throughout the world. For more information on upcoming trainings and online webinars, visit our Professional Development page. If you would like to host a training at your location, please e-mail Professional Development Manager, Katie Henry.

Do you have any programs for after school or summer camps?

Many schools around the world have hosted after-school programs using the Hummingbird and Finch. Each program is unique, so we have compiled a few examples of what we have seen in the past. Visit our camps page for case studies and inspiration for your program. If you would like help developing a more specialized curriculum, e-mail bambi@birdbraintechnologies.com for assistance.

How do you assess projects students create?

We have developed a rubric to best evaluate student projects. Visit our assessments page for more information.

Do your products support any standards-aligned lessons?

Many of our projects are aligned to Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and ISTE Standards. View our standards page to see how our projects align.

Where can I order the Finch robot or Hummingbird kits?

The easiest way to order is from our online store. We ship worldwide!

You can also order from one of our distributors:

I have a very limited budget for my classroom. What kinds discounts do you have for me?

BirdBrain Technologies offers a 10% educator discount on any order, as well as bulk pricing discounts. We have also compiled grant writing resources to make this application process easier for you. DonorsChoose and PledgeCents are two other fundraising platforms available. Our Finch Robot Loan Program is another option for bringing robots into your classroom (for no cost!). You can find more information about our discounts and grants page here.

Do you accept purchase orders?

Yes, we accept purchase orders from educational institutions in the United States.  

Do you have a warranty?

Yes–you can read the full warranty here.

What is your return policy?

Please see our Terms & Conditions for complete details regarding our return policy.

How many robots do I need to purchase for my classroom?

For the Finch robot, we suggest that you use the Finches with pair programming, such that each Finch robot is shared by 2 students. For a classroom set, you should purchase Finches for half the size of the largest class with which you will use the Finch robots.

For the Hummingbird, we offer classroom kits in the following sizes:

  • Small Classroom Kit: 8-12 students
  • Medium Classroom Kit: 16-24 students
  • Large Classroom Kit: 24-36 students
Do I have to pay sales tax?

You only have to pay sales tax if you are located in Pennsylvania and are not making the purchase for a non-profit entity. Pennsylvania non-profit entities should email their sales tax exemption forms to sales@birdbraintechnologies.com.

Do you have free shipping?

Yes! BirdBrain Technologies offers free shipping on orders over $75 within the United States.