Bird Brain Technologies is an incredible company, and they have some impressive new tricks up there sleeve. Bird Brain makes both Finch robots, and they make Hummingbird robotics kits. Out of all of the kits and maker supplies I have tried, Hummingbird is easily one of my favorites, and now they have added Microbit!
Hummingbird kits consist of a custom Arduino board, lights, sensors, and motors. The idea behind them is that a student can take the board, wire it with whatever they want, and add the electronic components to something they have made out of arts and crafts materials. It means students can make almost anything with them including some awesome robots. I have seen middle school students make coffee drinking robots, police cars, dioramas, UFO’s, and more. It is genuinely a maker activity that gives students endless possibilities.
Adding Microbit capability takes it up one more notch. A Microbit is a $30 board that gives students a the ability to program its onboard LED’s, buttons, power ports, and sensors. Microbit has it's it’s own blockly coding program, but it also works with Python as well. Adding it to the Hummingbird gives you the ability to run the Hummingbird “headless” which can open up a world of possibilities.
Running it “headless” basically means that you can run the Hummingbird without it being attached to a computer. In the past, you would always have to connect Hummingbird to a computer through a USB cable and run its programming through one of the many software platforms it supports. Running it headless means I can create the program ad detach the board to build standalone robots and items such as intruder alarms that use the Hummingbird sensors to take actions. It makes the Hummingbird kit more than just an incredible maker activity because now I can build tools for the real world that I can reuse. That’s important to show any kid!
Check out Hummingbird HERE