As described in American Libraries Direct of May 14, 2014, Google Chicago has given the Chicago Public Library 500 Finches (“A Robot Designed for Computer Science Education” www.finchrobot.com), which are being loaned out either in singles or packs of five for instructional purposes. Since we struggle so much with incorporating STEM into library programming, I was interested in finding out what makes the Finch so special.
Here are the top 5 reasons the Finch may be a good investment by your library/school/institution:
It’s been rigorously tested with students
There is already a curriculum available for over 20 activities
It accepts programming in the most commonly taught software including Snap! (for grades K-2), Java, C, Python, etc. Click here for the up-to-date list.
It’s affordable. Really.
Finally, it’s aesthetically pleasing i.e., it’s just plain CUTE!
So often when we (Nathan and I) try to work up a program we could offer dealing with STEM, the price climbs, the project is too complicated, too advanced, too contrived, uninteresting (at least to me) or all of the above. It’s understandable that it’s just easier to say, “Let’s just do a craft project with the kids and call it a day.” After all, they have fun, we have fun, someone learned something and probably checked out a book too. Mission accomplished.
In the STEM arena, things aren’t this easy. Well, we do have computers in the library and they’re set up for children. We load fun learning programs of all kinds and kids, especially those without computers at home, really enjoy the access at the library. But we know, as important as this access is, it’s not going to miraculously result in computer science literacy, beyond the basics. Maybe the Finch is one answer. I’m looking forward to hearing more about the Chicago program, outcomes and assessments. But I don’t plan to wait on that before trying one out myself.
I'd love to hear from you if you decide to try one too.