Company offers loaner robots to schools during CSEdWeek

Bill Gates famously had access to a computer at a time when most others didn’t, allowing him to master programming at a young age and eventually build one of the most successful software companies of all time.

While most young programmers won’t go on to top the Forbes Billionaire’s List, they will be better prepared for tomorrow’s high-tech workforce, which is why BirdBrain Technologies is offering to loan 1,000 of its robots to schools during this year’s Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek) in December.

BirdBrain is a Pittsburgh start-up out of Carnegie Mellon University that builds educational robots. Its bird-like “Finch” robot was designed to make computer programming more interesting for beginners and is based on four years of educational research by the CREATE Lab at Carnegie Mellon sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

BirdBrain will loan the robots in batches of 50 to up to 20 school districts or educational organizations. It will also cover the costs of shipping and provide a detailed, one-hour exercise for students. To be eligible, schools must have the ability to get at least 250 students involved with the program, have teachers willing to spend several hours training and be able to devote at least one class period to the activity. Complete program requirements and an application (Due Oct. 4) are available on the Finch website.

CSEdWeek is an annual program designed to demystify the process of coding for young people. Its signature initiative is “The Hour of Code,” a one-hour introduction to computer science. The event is organized by Computing in the Core and and scheduled each year in recognition of the birthday of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper on Dec. 9, 1906. This year’s event will be held Dec. 8-14.

[ photo courtesy of BirdBrain Technologies ]