Sense, Think, Act: Using Robotics as a Tool for Interdisciplinary Classroom Experiences

Location: Room 214B

Explore and create Preregistration and additional fee required.

Registration code: WF006

Fee: $219 (After May 1, $239)
[Explore and create : Workshop]

Saturday, June 24, 8:30 am–3:30 pm
Location: Room 214B

Dr. Tom Lauwers  
Join the creator of the Hummingbird kit, Dr. Tom Lauwers, and learn how you can use robotics to create cross-disciplinary projects such as robot poetry and robot Shakespeare. Everyone builds and programs a robot and creates a plan for classroom integration.

Fee: $219 (After May 1, $239)
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices required
Attendee device specification: Laptop: PC, Chromebook, Mac
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: For laptops, please follow the instructions at to install the Hummingbird software for Snap! or Scratch.

For iOS and Android tablets, please view our tutorial at to install the BirdBlox app.

Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Constructivist learning/maker movement
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: Teachers : Design and develop digital age learning experiences and assessments
Teachers : Facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity
Students : Innovative designer

Digital tote resources

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

21st century society rewards making, creativity, and computational thinking in adults, but schools often struggle to find ways to afford students with opportunities to learn and practice these skills and traits. The Learning Magazine 2015 Teacher’s Choice Award-winning Hummingbird robotics kit is designed for teachers & students to enable fun, deep learning experiences in these 21st century skills while integrating well with traditional classroom activities (like arts & crafts projects) that are common to elementary and middle school. The Hummingbird Robotics Kit is a spin-off product of Carnegie Mellon University's CREATE lab. The kit is designed to introduce engineering and robotics activities to upper elementary students, while at the same time providing more complex robotics design opportunities to teenagers, through an innovative, arts and crafts-based approach. Students use the kit to make robots, kinetic sculptures, and animatronics built out of a combination of kit parts and crafting materials.

The ultimate goals of the workshop are (1) for participants to build and program a Hummingbird kit robot, and (2) for participants to understand how Hummingbird can be integrated with classroom education. Specifically, educators participating in the workshop will walk away with: (1) A functional understanding of the core components of any robotics kit (controller board, outputs, sensors). (2) An understanding of robot programming. (3) Confidence that they can independently evaluate robotics kit options within the context of their classroom. (4) The ability to create assessments for interdisciplinary robotics projects.


The content of the session includes a history and description of the Hummingbird kit’s research-based foundation, a hands-on introduction to the electronics and programming environment, and a discussion of examples of and strategies for classroom use.

These three major content areas will be divided as follows:
0:00 to 0:20: History of the Hummingbird kit
0:20 to 0:45: What is a robot?/Example student-created Hummingbird robots.
0:45 to 2:00: Connecting and programming kit components, a guided hands-on tutorial.
2:00 to 4:00: Build, program, and present a small robot.
4:00 to 4:30: Discuss example classroom projects using robotics as a tool, view assessment techniques, standards alignment.
4:30 to 5:30: Create a lesson plan integrating Hummingbird kit or other maker tool/robotics kit with a class you teach
5:30 to 6:00: Discussion of lesson plans, wrap-up

Our process is to engage participants in hands-on activities and to minimize time spent on a lecture-only format. We find that participants learning about Hummingbird learn best by doing, and in our experience in dozens of workshops, prior knowledge of programming or electronics is not at all a prerequisite for participants to successfully build and program robots with the Hummingbird kit.

Supporting research

The Hummingbird kit is the result of a 10 year and ongoing research program at Carnegie Mellon University. The research process that led to the ultimate design of the kit involved years of work with middle school students, after-school and home school groups, and upper elementary and middle school educators. This process is documented in a number of research papers available at

The Hummingbird kit fits broadly into a set of new tools emerging from the “Maker Movement” that enable project-based learning and constructivist education in the classroom. A strong basis for embracing constructivism in the classroom is made in the opening chapters of Invent-to-Learn, an excellent book that covers the “why” and “how” of bringing activities that foster invention and creativity into the classroom.



Dr. Tom Lauwers, BirdBrain Technologies LLC

learning starts here

San Antonio

June 25-28, 2017

© 2017 International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), All Rights Reserved