Could This $99 Robot Transform Computer Science Education?

This plug-and-play robot could be a revolutionary way of teaching coding and programming.


Remember when high school computer science classes were all about entering code into a desktop and hoping you did it correctly so that something (anything) would happen? Thanks to the Finch, a $99 robot born out of four years of research by Carnegie Mellon's CREATE lab, intro computer science classes might be in for a big change.

The robot is fully designed with the student in mind. It's undeniably cute—almost like an anamatronic Zhu Zhu pet—which is no surprise since student votes determined what the Finch would look like. Its technical abilities have also been road tested by both high school and college classrooms. Students love it because it's portable—the creators actually recommend that students be allowed to take it home to "play" with—and in a truly student-friendly move, it can interact with uploaded music and smartphones.

You can check out all the cool specs in the above video, but what makes the Finch really great is how easy it is to use. Even novice students can quickly learn how to make it say "'Hello, World,' or do a little dance, or make its beak glow blue in response to cold temperature or some other stimulus." And, in a move teachers will love, the Finch website offers some pretty comprehensive activities and assignments, making this robot a truly plug-and-play option for the classroom.