Grant Writing Materials

In an effort to help teachers and librarians who are preparing grant proposals in order to purchase Finches and Hummingbird Kits, we're providing answers to a number of standard questions requested in a typical grant proposal.

Feel free to use the text as advice or copy and paste it wholesale. If we're missing something on this page, please let us know so we can add an answer for it in the future!

Finding Funding

The funding situations at schools vary dramatically. To assist you, here is a list of sources teachers have used in the past:

  • Donor's Choose: This website allows you to appeal for donations for classroom projects from a large base of philanthropically minded users. The Finch and Hummingbird are not currently carried by any "approved" vendors at Donor's Choose, but you can place a special materials request. Please contact us if you are interested in using this venue for fundraising.
  • District Support Organizations: Depending on the state you live in, your district might be supported by a governmental organization at the county or multi-county level. These organizations may offer grant programs for STEM-related programs or equipment.
  • Foundations/Corporations: Many robotics teams are funded by technology companies who have an interest in cultivating their future workforce. You can make the same argument with the Finch and Hummingbird. If there are any technology companies in your area, ask if they have a corporate giving program. Similarly, there may be local foundations in your area that focus on education. Below is a list of larger corporations that provide funding for education in the sciences:
  • PTA/PTO/Friends of the Library: Many parent and community support organizations recognize the value in increasing computational thinking and other STEM skills, and have purchased robots for their schools or libraries.

Hummingbird Details

Brief Description of the Hummingbird

The Hummingbird Robotics Kit is a spin-off of a six year (and on-going) research project at Carnegie Mellons' CREATE Lab. The Hummingbird is designed to enable engineering and robotics activities for ages 10 and up that involved the making of robots, kinetic sculptures, and animatronics built out of a combination of kit parts and arts & craft materials. Combined with several very easy-to-use visual programming environments, the Hummingbird provides a great way to introduce students to robotics and engineering with construction materials that they are already familiar with.

The Hummingbird Robotics Kit allows for unique and valuable project based learning in an everyday multidisciplinary classroom environment and has been classroom tested. The Hummingbird is being used in math, science, history, art, and technology classes at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, as well as by after school programs.

Students Impacted by the Grant

The Hummingbird Robotics Kit is designed for students ages 10 and up (though we strongly recommend supervision for students under 13). No prior experience with programming or engineering is necessary, so we believe that any students in art, science, technology, or math classes at your school could be impacted by the Hummingbird. Which students are impacted is more dependent on which classes/teachers have the available time to incorporate the Hummingbird at the school.

Two to three students sharing and working with one Hummingbird Robotics Kit will foster teamwork and collaboration, and increase social communication skills amongst students in the group. Students will also practice delegation of responsibilities and adhering to deadlines.

Cost Breakdown

Some grants may request a pricing table for the Hummingbird. In general, the kits cost $60 to $100/student user; as parts are reusable, this can mean $60 to $100 for up to around six students per school year (if each student uses the kit for a month or two). You can see our exact pricing at our store; please keep in mind that if you apply for an educational discount, all prices will be reduced an additional 10%.

Expected Lifetime of Equipment

A conservative answer is 3 years, though we expect most kits to last 5-10 years. Some kit components (like the LEDs) may become integrated into student projects in ways that make these difficult to remove. You should consider budgeting replacement parts if requesting a multi-year grant. Note that you can purchase and price our kit components a la carte.

Frequency of use of Equipment

The Hummingbird Robotics Kit can be used fairly extensively in art, technology, math, and science classes (or all four!).

Alignment to District Goals

The Hummingbird Robotics Kit can be integrated in a wide variety of core courses with activities that connect to many NGSS, CCS, Technology and Engineering standards. This project also ties into many of the following example district goals:

  • Implement Common Core State Standards Initiatives, i.e. Foundational Text and Skills, Informational Text, Speaking and Listening, Range Quality and Complexity, and Next Generation Science Standards NGSS
  • Increase and improve kinesthetic learning activities in the classroom
  • Introduce technology and engineering through everyday project based subjects like Poetry, English, Art, History, Geology, Human Anatomy, etc.
  • Unleash student's creative imaginations
  • Increase STEM, STEAM adoption, interest and enrollment
  • Provide a rich curriculum in order to maximize student learning
  • Also, check out our guidance on standards alignment

Please note: The above are examples. District goals are not universal and may vary from district to district.

Hummingbird Impact on Students, Faculty and Community

Students will work together in small collaborative groups to discuss, debate and decide the design. They will then work together to develop and bring their creation to life. They will engage in thoughtful, dynamic discussions to set tasks, delegate responsibilities, follow a specific step by step process, and adhere to deadlines to build their creation and achieve their goal. Students will reveal and demonstrate their creations to the rest of the groups/class/teachers in an open forum. They will discuss the development process, explain ALL materials used, steps, challenges, difficulties, highs and lows and answer any questions as they arise.

Students will discuss with their group-classroom, and different grade classrooms, what they would improve and do differently. This can and will be done both in whole class lessons and in small groups. Teachers will work together to put in place lesson plans that enhance the teaching of STEM subjects.

Hummingbird Impact on Learning

The Hummingbird Robotics Kit is designed to have several impacts on learning:

  • Students using the Hummingbird learn about programming and computer science.
  • Students engage with the engineering design process to construct their robots.
  • Learning can also improve in a core subject: for example, students creating Hummingbird robots that expressed the scenes in a poem also develop a greater understanding and appreciation of that poem.
  • Research shows that between elementary school and high school, interest in STEM subjects declines significantly, especially for girls and underrepresented groups. The Hummingbird is designed to increase interest in STEM, especially in these groups, by providing an engaging, alternative pathway to learning about engineering and programming through familiar, crafts-based materials.
  • To increase interest in STEM among all students, we recommend using the Hummingbird in regular classes, such that students do not self-select into a "Hummingbird" program as they might into an after-school robotics team/activity. The university-based research endeavor leading to the Hummingbird Robotics Kit has conducted several small-scale studies indicating that use of Hummingbird can have these impacts on student learning. NSF if currently funding a much larger study that will address these learning objectives in more detail.

Assessment Suggestions

Please fill this part based on your expectation on how you are going to measure students' progress and results. However, please note that other teachers have utilized rubric assessments to measure project impact, students' interest, progress and performance. Here are some targets that we recommend that you should focus on and measure:

  • Foster interest in STEM.
  • Target Kinesthetic and visual learners.
  • Explore students' creative imagination.
  • Integrate and introduce Common Core, CCSS, Next Generation Science Standards, NGSS, Technology and Engineering.
  • Look for and enrich an "aha" moment.
    • Example: Students made a connection and acknowledged that now they understand how automatic soap dispensers and automatic doors work
      • "It's a distance sensor that activates the servos to dispense soap and the motor to open the door." -5th grade student

Social or Economic Needs

The U.S. Department of Labor projects that between 2008 and 2018, 1.4 million computing jobs will have opened in the U.S. If current university graduation rates continue, only 61% of these jobs could be filled by U.S. computing degree-earners. Unfortunately, graduation rates are dropping or stagnating at most universities. It is imperative that we have more students studying Computer Science if we are to fill those jobs. Computer science teaches students design, logical reasoning, and problem solving--all valuable well beyond the computer science classroom.

NCWIT and have some good resources backing up and expanding on the above paragraph:

Additionally, information technology and computer science careers are some of the best-paid, highest growth options for students today. You can find detailed career and salary information at:

Project Promotion Suggestions

Some grants may ask you to promote the funding agency or program. Others may simply wish that you have a plan for advertising the funded project as widely as possible. The following are several suggestions for doing so:

  • Article in the school newspaper (for students).
  • Article in a school newsletter (for parents).
  • Display at open house.
  • Display at information nights for incoming students.
  • Hold contests or events where current students can display their work to other students to try to recruit for next year.
  • Provide a letter to parents of students who get to use the Finch and Hummingbird thanking the granting organization for providing the robots and describing how they can be used.
  • Encourage students to use Finch in science fairs.
  • Encourage advanced students to organize Finch and Hummingbird workshops for younger students.
  • Partner with a local library or community organization to provide outreach demonstrations or classes for the community.

Pictures of Hummingbird

Download high-resolution pictures of the Hummingbird Robotics Kit here.