At the Lebanon Public Libraries, we have been working on expanding our STEM programming. I am sure that a lot of other libraries are in the same boat. We recently ran a Scratch program for kids at our library that went really well (we’ll have a post up soon with more specifics about that program). We wanted to build on the success of the Scratch program and recently got some grant money, so we decided to purchase some Finch Robots.
The Finch Robot is a cool little robot that was developed at Carnegie Mellon University specifically for teaching STEM. It supports over a dozen programming languages including Scratch, Python, and Java. All of these languages have well documented software libraries available. This means that it has a great deal of flexibility in the type of programs it can be used for in libraries. You can have patrons from kindergarten through college (or even older) learn on it. In fact the Finch website includes example lessons for all levels of learner. Not having to start from nothing when planning a program is a great help for busy librarians.
The cost is very friendly too. The Finch robot costs $99 and can be purchased from http://store.birdbraintechnologies.com/product-p/fr-1.htm. The robot includes accelerometers, a buzzer, a full-color beak LED, and light, temperature, and obstacle sensors. There are no add-ons or upsales for it. To make the deal even sweeter, if your library can’t afford to buy their own Finch robots, they will loan them to you free of charge or help you prepare a grant to get them.
I will post a review once I have them in hand and have run programs for patrons with them. However, from what I have seen so far, they are an affordable, versatile, and fun way to increase your library’s STEM programming.