Hummingbird Creatures

In this project, students work in pairs to design and build a robotic creature. This project emphasizes planning. Students create detailed sketches that depict where the creature will incorporate robotic components. They also make lists of the items they will need and collect recycled materials to build their creature. As they build, students outline how they will program the creature in Snap!. To complete their projects, they focus on the process of testing and revision. This project is a collaboration between Cheryl Capezzuti and Timothy Wagner, the art and technology teachers of the Fanny Edel Falk Laboratory School.
Grades: 
Standards: 
This project is aligned with a number of the CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards for Level 1: Computer Science and Me (grades 3-6). Specifically, this project aligns with standards in computational thinking (CT.1, CT.5, CT.6); collaboration (CL.3); computing practice & programming (CPP.1, CPP.5, CPP.6); and computers & communications devices (CD.3-CD.6). This project will also meet the Next Generation Science Standards for engineering design (3-5-ETS1-1 - 3-5-ETS1-3).
Classroom Time Required: 
12-20 hours
Lesson Procedures: 

This project is a collaboration between the art and technology teachers. Each of these classes meets once a week, and students spend 8-10 weeks on this project.

Students complete this project in pairs. They have previous programming experience in Scratch.

  1. First, students learn in technology class about the components of the Hummingbird kit. They are also given the requirements for the project. Each project must include 4 lights, 3 motors (servo/gear), and 1 sensor. Students are also encouraged to include an example of a simple machine.
  2. In art, students consider how they must design both the inside and the outside of the robot. As they begin thinking about their design, students are encouraged to consider constraints, such as the fact that the motors cannot move heavy items.
  3. Students create a drawing that shows both the inside and the outside of their design. This design shows where they will place the Hummingbird board and wires. Students also label the Hummingbird components in their design, as well as other important materials. Students make lists of the items that they will need for their project and bring in boxes and plastic containers to build their design.
  4. Students build a base for their robot. This base must include a space for the Hummingbird board, and it must be sturdy enough to support the Hummingbird components. At this point, students connect the materials for the base with masking tape. They also create any holes or slots that they will need for wires, motors, or the Hummingbird board.
  5. Students learn to program the lights, motors, and sensors of the Hummingbird in Snap!. They attach different components to the board to test them.
  6. Students place a layer of paper maché over the robot base, paying particular attention to where pieces of the base are joined with masking tape. Using paper maché increases the strength of the robot base and also ensures that motors, lights, and sensors can be easily attached anywhere on the base with hot glue. Students cover any holes or slots in the base.
  7. Students attach the Hummingbird components to their robot base. At this point, they also attach items such as wings, ears, etc.
  8. Students program the robot. This may involve modifications to physical structure of the robot, as well as the code. Testing and revision are essential! During this time, students also add the aesthetic details to their project.
  9. After the project, students reflect on their experience by writing letters to the next class.                        
Assessment: 
The attached rubric was used to assess the projects.
Materials & Resources Used: 
Students were encouraged to recycle materials wherever possible. Their designs incorporated old boxes, salad containers, plastic bottles, and more! These materials were covered with paper maché (from reused paper) to increase the strength of the robots and make it easier to attach Hummingbird components.
Objective and Learning Goals: 

Students will

  • collaborate to complete a long-term project.
  • create a plan to use recycled materials and electronics to create a robot animal.
  • construct a stable, aesthetically pleasing base for the robot animal.
  • use computational thinking to write a program to control the animal.
  • test and revise the animal.
Assessment (PDF or Doc):