The finch robot 2.0 from Birdbrain Technologies is designed to bring computer science to life
The finch 2.0 has a wide range of features including:
- Integrated rechargeable battery (lasts about 7 hours)
- Pen holder for drawing
- 5 x tricolour LEDs
- Multi-toned buzzer
- Wheel encoders
- 2 x Light sensors
- 1 x Distance sensor
- 2 x Infrared line tracking sensors
- Compatible with Lego
- Marks on the wheels to count revolutions
The finch 2.0 can be programmed using Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, Chromebook, iOS, and FireOS using a huge range of programming languages including:
- FinchBlox (iOS, Android and FireOS)
- BirdBlox (iOS, Android and FireOS)
- MakeCode (Chromebook, Mac, Windows and Linux)
- Snap! (Chromebook, Mac and Windows)
- Python (Chromebook, Mac and Windows)
- Java (Mac and Windows)
- Swift (iOS app builder available on Mac)
- Kotlin (Android app builder available on Mac and Windows)
For this review, I will take a look at MakeCode, FinchBlox and BirdBlox.
FinchBlock is a great programming language for young kids (3/4 years old) as it's all visual no text just images of arrows. I had a look at this on Android. To get the finch 2.0 to connect to the tablet/phone you need to download a hex file onto the micro:bit. You will need a PC for this bit. The file is available from Birdbrain Technologies. Once you have downloaded this file onto the micro:bit it is very easy for kids to get started with the Finch 2.0 using a Tablet, iPad or phone.
BirdBlox is a little more complex than FinchBlox, but if the kids are familiar with Scratch they will be able to get started with BirdBlox very quickly. Like FinchBlox you need to download the hex file onto the micro:bit to enable your micro:bit to communicate with the finch 2.0 wirelessly over Bluetooth. The file is available from Birdbrain Technologies
To use the finch 2.0 with MakeCode we first needed to install the extension do this by clicking on Advanced then right at the bottom, you will find Extensions click on this and type finch into the search bar and press enter. Now click on the finch extension and you are now ready to get started using your finch 2.0 robot.
MakeCode is fairly easy for kids of 6/7 years old to get started with. again it is a block-based language similar to Scratch. I tested MakeCode on a Windows and Linux system by using the built-in pen holder and infrared line sensors to get a feel of what the finch 2.0 was capable of and how easy it would be for kids to get started.
Here is the code I used for the pen holder:
Here is the code I used for the line sensors:
The finch 2.0 is a sturdy robot with a lot of built-in features and supports a huge range of programming languages which means the finch 2.0 can be used throughout the school from nursery to the end of high school. Priced at $139 (£100) is a little steep, but taking into consideration the number of features and programming languages supported this will give any child years of fun and learning.