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Robotics kit steers kids away from complex code, toward fun projects


You''ve likely come into contact with one of the many wondrous robots with an Arduino brain, but actually building one yourself? That's hard enough for adults, let alone young kids. BirdBrain Technologies, the brains behind the Hummingbird Arduino Kickstarter project (along with Carnegie Mellon University) feels the same way and has just launched the Hummingbird Duo, a robotics Kickstarter project for kids "10 to 110." It's designed to ease the robotics learning curve with two boards: the original Hummingbird kit to help younger kids start making projects, and a "Leonardo" board for when they've gathered some experience. You'll get the same building blocks like LEDs, vibration motors, servers and sensors from the original kit, along with an integrated motor/servo shield and improved connectors on the second board.

Luckily, it's not just boards. There's free software like the Create visual lab programmer that uses a simple "storyboarding" interface to create the control code. You can also purchase a base kit with hardware to create simple robots, a premium kit with more sensors and motors, and a classroom kit that helps 16-24 students build projects like animatronic puppet shows. That's far from the gearhead reputation of robots and gives kids a chance to be creative as well as technical. The Hummingbird Duo board starts at $69, while the Base, Premium and Classroom kits run at $129, $225 and $1,500 for early backers, respectively. To sign up, hit Kickstarter here or at the source.

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