Earthworm Locomotion

In this activity, you will create your own robotic earthworm! To do this, you will need to understand how an earthworm moves. Start by watching this video, then read this explanation. An earthworm moves using circular and longitudinal muscles, as well as bristles called setae. The earthworm can push the setae out of its body to grab the soil around it.

Laser Cut Mechanisms

A mechanism enables you to transform the rotation of a motor into another type of motion. In this series of lessons, you will use laser cut parts to explore mechanisms involving cranks, cams, and cables. PDF files are provided for each lesson. You will need to cut these files from cardboard using a laser cutter. The lessons will guide you through assembling these parts to make sturdy, modular mechanisms.


A mechanism enables you to transform the rotation of a motor into another type of motion. In this series of lessons, you will use LEGO® Technic parts to explore mechanisms involving cranks, gears, and cables. Paper templates are provided to guide you in cutting and folding cardboard boxes and accessories to make sturdy, modular mechanisms.

Coriolis Effect

At first, earth science standards may seem far beyond the reach of a robotics activity. However, students can use the Hummingbird to get some hands-on experience with important concepts such as the Coriolis effect, the phenomenon that determines the direction in which a storm rotates. Stephanie Reilly's earth science students at Plum High School used the gear motor to create Hummingbird models of the Coriolis effect and then produced videos to explain what they learned. This project took place in a learning support class over five 42-minute sessions.

Opera Bots

Opera can seem an inscrutable topic to middle school students. In order to help students better understand and appreciate this art form, music teacher Beth Minda partnered with Gifted Support Coordinator Sue Mellon to devise an interdisciplinary project using the Hummingbird. Eighth grade students from Springdale Junior/Senior High worked in pairs to design and build robotic dioramas for selections from La bohème.

Writing and Robotics

Writing and Robotics is a week-long summer camp at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) run by the SELF Design Studio.  Writing and Robotics is an elective add-on experience for participants of the UNCG Young Writers’ Camp, which is a morning camp that spans a two week period in July.  In Young Writers’ Camp, students write and publish their own fiction or nonfiction work on the UNCG Young Writers’ Camp webpage.

Scissor Linkages

Movement with a Scissor Linkage

The easiest motion to create with the Hummingbird kit is rotation. The gear motors rotate, and the servo motors move in arcs. As students become more experienced, they often want to create other types of motion as well. Linkages can be used to create many different types of motion using the gear and servo motors. For example, students can be challenged to use a linkage to move an object back and  forth.

Measuring the Hypotenuse

Robots can use distance sensors to determine where objects or people are in the environment. A stationary distance sensor can only measure the distance to an object right in front of it. On the other hand, a moving distance sensor can measure the distance to a number of objects in the environment. It can even compute the distance between these objects.

Measuring Motor Speed

The command to the Hummingbird gear motor sets the speed of the motor using a number from 0 to 100. We developed this project to demonstrate how this number controls the voltage supplied to the motor as well as how the rotations per minute of the motor.

Genetics Simulation

This activity was inspired by two of the disciplinary core ideas in the Next Generation Science Standards: LS3.A (Inheritance of Traits) and LS3.B (Variation of Traits). Our goal was to use Scratch with the Hummingbird to create a genetics simulation. First, we will describe the simplest version of this simulation, and then we will explain how it can be expanded for more advanced students.