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Another Platform for Computer Science Education May 6, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in learning, play, prototyping tools.
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Just stumbled across The Finch, a new and very cute robot for computer science education, developed by Carnegie Mellon’s Create Lab.

I was quite impressed that the software to program the Finch is available in a lot of different languages, amongst others Java, Processing and Python.

I also quite impressed by the price and robustness of this device. The only thing I am not so excited about is the permanent connection of Finch to a PC via USB-cable. This seems to be quite troublesome or limiting, even though one doesn’t need to take care of batteries – as they say in their video…

In the introduction video the inventors argue for Finch based on their own framework for using robots in the computer science eduction:

  • Works Everywhere
  • Rich Interactivity
  • Aesthetically Appealing
  • Robust Hardware
  • Minimal Curricular Changes

I think this framework sounds reasonable, however the point “Minimal Curricular Changes” is too applyed for my taste. I prefer the thoughts of my ex-MA student and colleague André Knörig, who described in his MA-thesis the goals of our tool Fritzing as “low entry barrier”, “high ceiling” and “wide walls”.

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