Meet The Finch, a $100 robot from Carnegie Mellon university designed to make computer science education more fun. From the press release:
A white plastic, two-wheeled robot with bird-like features, Finch can quickly be programmed by a novice to say "Hello, World," or do a little dance, or make its beak glow blue in response to cold temperature or some other stimulus. But the simple look of the tabletop robot is deceptive. Based on four years of educational research sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Finch includes a number of features that could keep students busy for a semester or more thinking up new things to do with it.
"Students are more interested and more motivated when they can work with something interactive and create programs that operate in the real world," said Tom Lauwers, who earned his Ph.D. in robotics at CMU in 2010 and is now an instructor in the Robotics Institute's CREATE Lab. "We packed Finch with sensors and mechanisms that engage the eyes, the ears -- as many senses as possible."
"Our vision is to make Finch affordable enough that every student can have one to take home for assignments," said Lauwers, who developed the robot with Illah Nourbakhsh, associate professor of robotics and director of the CREATE Lab. Less than a foot long, Finch easily fits in a backpack and is rugged enough to survive being hauled around and occasionally dropped.