Welcome

Our mission at BirdBrain Technologies is to inspire deep and joyful learning in all students through creative robotics. We are excited that you are joining us in making robotics accessible to all students through this course!

Before we begin to program our Hummingbird Robotics Kit*, it may be helpful to ask yourself:

What is a robot?

We define a robot as a machine that senses its environment, thinks about it, and then reacts. Can you think of some sensing, thinking, acting machines that you have interacted with today?

 

*Please note that this course is for Hummingbird Bit, however Hummingbird Duo users can also use Snap!. Email support@birdbraintechnologies.com with questions.

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Set up (Mac/Windows)

This is the setup procedure for anyone using a Mac/Windows computer using the Hummingbird Bluetooth Dongle. If you have a Chromebook or do not have a Bluetooth Dongle, skip to step 3.

Snap! is a block-based coding language developed at UC Berkeley. It is very similar to Scratch. One key advantage to programming in Snap! is that the code can be updated while it is running. In some other programming languages, the code needs to be downloaded every time you make a change. Snap!, by contrast, is always in contact with the Hummingbird Bit, making the code “tinkerable.”

Snap! is a browser-based programming language, so it will run in Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, or FireFox. In order to connect the Hummingbird Bit to your computer, you will need to download an application called the BlueBird Connector. You can find a link to the BlueBird Connector in the Resources tab.

Set up (Chromebooks/USB tethered)

This is the setup procedure for anyone using a Chromebook, or for Mac/Windows users who do not have the Bluetooth Dongle. Anyone using this setup procedure will need to have their Hummingbird tethered to their computer using the USB cable. If you have a Mac/Windows device and have a Bluetooth Dongle, return to step 2.

Snap! is a block-based coding language developed at UC Berkeley. It is very similar to Scratch. One key advantage to programming in Snap! is the code can be updated while it is running. In some other programming languages, the code needs to be downloaded every time you make a change. Snap!, by contrast, is always in contact with the Hummingbird Bit, making the code “tinkerable.”

Snap! is a browser-based programming language, so it will run in Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, or FireFox. In order to connect the Hummingbird Bit to your computer, you will need to download an application called the BlueBird Connector. You can find a link to the BlueBird Connector in the Resources tab.

Blinking a Single Color LED

As you are plugging in your single color LED, make sure the colored wire (green, red, or yellow) is plugged into the + side of the port, and the black wire is plugged into the – side of the port. As you are coding, double check to make sure the port number on the screen matches the port on the Hummingbird controller where you plugged in your LED. 

Once you get your LED blinking, what in your code will need to change to get that LED blinking faster?

Hummingbird Hacks with an LED

Now that you know how to get an LED to blink, what can you do with it? A blinking LED needs your creative design before it can become a robot. Watch this video for a creative tip to use with your LED. 

Blinking a Tri-Color LED

The same pattern you used to blink a single color LED will also allow a tri-color LED to blink between its different colors: red, green, and blue. 

Now that you can program the individual colors, can you mix those colors to create colors like purple, turquoise, and yellow?

Hummingbird Hacks with a Tri-Color LED

You can better mix and diffuse the LED light with a translucent material, for example with a packing peanut or a styrofoam ball. Even a white napkin or a piece of cloth would do the trick! This is a great time to experiment not only with your code, but with some of the translucent materials you have around your classroom.

Moving a Position Servo Motor

It is important to remember that when programming a position servo motor, the angle is constant. In other words, if you program your position servo to go to 90°, the servo will move to 90°, then stop. The position servo will not move again until you instruct it to go to a new angle.

Remember how you gave the single color LED two commands to alternate between 0% and 100%? Similarly, you must give the position servo at least 2 commands. Pick your favorite angles between 0° and 180°. 

Hummingbird Hacks with a Position Servo

The servo horn is the little piece of plastic that fits on the servo shaft. Don’t be afraid to hot glue items onto it! When you add a unique design to the servo horn (a robot arm, a sail boat, an eyeball, etc.), it quickly transforms from a servo into your personal robot.

 

The Build Pages

When learning the Hummingbird Bit, a lot of time is dedicated to programming and connecting components, but knowing how to build and engineer with craft materials is just as important. Our Build pages were designed for you to get started with simple designs, but also to help you take your simple designs a bit further.

 

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Programming a Sensor

Remember, a robot is a machine that senses, thinks, and acts, so a sensor is a critical component within any robot. When plugged into a Hummingbird Bit, a sensor is constantly gathering data, and the trick is to put that data to work. In this video, we show you a few ways to use and visualize sensor data. 

Adding a Sensor to a project

Adding a sensor will make the most simple projects more interactive. This interaction will also allow students to better demonstrate their knowledge of a range of subjects, such as mathematics, social studies, and science.

Additional Resources

This course was designed to teach you what you needed to know to get started with the Hummingbird Bit in your classroom. There is so much more you can do with the Hummingbird and so many more resources we can offer to help you go further!

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The Projects and Resources Pages

Now that you can program with Snap! and you have some building skills, what can you teach with the Hummingbird? Maybe more important, how can you teach with the Hummingbird?  

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Why Teach Robotics with the Hummingbird

Why are you teaching robotics in your class? Maybe it’s for student creativity. Maybe it’s to develop 21st century skills. Maybe it’s for student equity. Whatever your reason, it is important that we, as teachers, connect to this reason for ourselves. 

Why teach robotics with Hummingbird? 

  1. It is flexible: As you saw in these videos, you can create anything you can imagine with the Hummingbird in any classroom and any subject. Additionally, the Hummingbird can be used with any device, with or without an internet connection. This kit can also be used with both entry-level programming languages (BirdBlox, Snap!, or MakeCode) and with advanced languages (Java, Python).
  2. You can use craft materials: Craft materials are familiar to most students, which allows for barriers to be removed. These types of materials are also already being used in a wide range of classroom projects, making it easy to imagine where a Hummingbird project can fit into the curriculum. And best of all, craft materials are often free!
  3. Support through free learning materials: BirdBrain Technologies has created a wide range of student and teacher-facing support materials designed to make getting started easy. Our learning materials also make it possible to take a dive deep into computer science concepts. 

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