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Video of the Finch robot. (Video/Vanessa Bell)

Finch Robots Come to Chicago Libraries

By Vanessa Bell

Posted: Thursday, May 15 , 2014

Google Chicago has made Chicago Public Libraries the first in the nation to have Finch Robots available for check out. Created at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, The Finch was designed for computer science education. The goal of the robot is to help students from ages as young as 4 learn coding.

I visited one of the libraries to check one out and give it a whirl myself. After playing around with the coding and enlisting the help of a few YouTube tutorials, I was able to get it going. The coding isn’t very tricking, but attention to detail is key to get it to do what you have in mind. I jotted down a few steps to get the process going.

1. You’ll want to check the box and  make sure you have all the necessary materials. The Robot itself, the USB cord, and the instructions. The bot can’t work without the  USB, and the instructions have the list of sites you’ll need to get started.

2. Go to the first site listed (finchrobot.com/finch-hardware) to get a general overview of the robot. After you’ve read that, head over to the software section to download it.

3. Open it up and get familiar with the settings. The first one I would recommend is dragging and dropping the “move finch left/right” into the scripts section and setting both values at 100. This will at least get it moving for you.

I took a photo for each of these steps so you know exactly what you’re looking for. I place them in steps using my Evernote app. You can view the steps and photos here.

I went to the Sulzer branch of the Chicago Public Library, but The Finch is available for checkout at five other locations. Those branches are:

1. Woodson Regional

2. Harrold Washington (teens only)

3. Wrightwood-Ashburn

4. Back Of The Yards

5. Austin-Irving

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