The FINCH Robot

     The Finch Robot is a small robot produced by BirdBrain Technologies, the same company that makes the Hummingbird board. If you're familiar with the Hummingbird board, you'll find the Finch very easy to work with, especially if you use the Finch version of Visual Programmer.  One way to think of the Finch is that it's very much like a Hummingbird board with sensors, motors, and LED's already connected and the whole thing is placed inside a robot body.

     The Robot costs $99.00 but make sure you check into the 10% Educator's discount.  It comes completely assembled, with a long USB cable that links the bot to your computer.  Like the Hummingbird, it must be tethered to the computer but the long cable gives you plenty of room to test  your programs.  You can program the Finch in a number of languages including Visual Programmer, Snap, and Scratch.  The website,, provides lots of helpful information and some really good tutorials. 
     I like to start with Visual Programmer because it provides such a close connection between the interface and the object.  Starting the program you see a diagram of the finch with check boxes for the motors, led's, and the buzzer.  When you check a box, a slider bar comes up and as you move the slider, that motor on the Finch begins turning.  Once the motor is turning at the speed you want, you save that step, or expression.  You can build a library of expressions, then on the program (sequence) page, you build your program from those expressions, dragging in the counter or sensor block as needed.
     I think the SNAP! language is a good next step.  The Finch site provides an excellent tutorial with a number of videos and lots of graphics.  The link for that page is