Loan Program FAQs
When can I apply for the loan program?
The application for the 2017-2018 school year is now closed. We are still making a few summer 2018 loans on a case by case basis. If you are interested in a summer 2018 loan please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How long can I borrow the Finch robots?
Our standard loan is for 2 months. With travel time this generally means about 6 weeks of classroom time with the Finches. We do make exceptions for organizations that are planning on using the robots across multiple classrooms, teachers, or schools, and thus require more time with the Finches.
How many Finch robots can I borrow?
We request that you use the Finches in pair programming, which means that each Finch robot is shared by 2 students. You should request Finches for half the size of the largest class with which you will use the Finch robots. For example, if you have a class of 20 students you should request 10 Finches.
What kinds of activities can I do with the Finches?
Select the appropriate grade range on the Teaching tab of our website for a myriad of activities you can do with the Finches. With sensors, buzzers, LEDs, and even a pen mount for drawing, the options are limitless! If you are exploring options for younger kids check out this video of the fun things loan recipient Towns County Elementary School in Hiawassee, GA did with their loaner flock!
What software do you recommend I use with the Finches?
There are over a dozen programming languages supported for the Finch, ranging from easy drag & drop languages appropriate for kindergarteners to complex programming environments. Check out our software page for a complete list.
To give you time to determine the best programming environment we will send every first time loan recipient a test robot a few months in advance of your loan period. You can use this Finch to try out different programming languages (and work out any potential IT glitches with your district's computer systems ;). This Finch is yours to keep after the loan program is over!
Can a group of organizations apply together?
We are happy to receive applications that combine use across nearby schools or libraries, regardless of whether they are in the same district. Our main requirement is that we can ship to/from a single address. You will also need to build time in to distribute and then re-collect the robots from each participating organization.
Can organizations that are not schools or libraries apply?
Yes! We are happy to support all organizations that are teaching kids to code. We are especially interested in summer programs, since the robots do not like being idle all summer, waiting for school to start! The main criteria to consider is that your organization have a non-profit mission. We prefer that you provide free programs for students. You may charge fees for programs involving the Finch, but only to cover your costs, not for profit.
My organization isn't in the United States. Can I apply?
Unfortunately the loan program is only available for organizations in the contiguous United States. Shipping costs and customs requirements make it cost prohibitive to loan robots outside of the US at this time.
I have some Finches already, can I apply anyhow?
Yes! We'd love to give you a chance to super-size your Finch program for a few months. The Finch and the loan program are all about increasing access to computer science, so please use the loan program as an opportunity to recruit more kids into your CS classes, share your students' knowledge with younger students, or to hold community-wide events.
I have already participated in the loan program, can I apply again?
Yes! We are so happy that you enjoyed the program so much that you want to do it again! We particularly like giving loans to schools who loved the Finches so much that they've tried to establish a permanent flock, no matter how small. We've had a lot of schools have luck with getting grants for a small number of Finches and then requesting a loan to supersize their flock for a few months of intense robotics! If you've acquired some Finches since your loan, do let us know.
What kind of hardware do I need to use the Finches?
The Finches require access to a desktop, laptop, or Chromebook computer. The Finches do not work with iPads or Android tablets.
Can I let library patrons check out the Finches, or loan them to my students for use at home?
We envision the Finch robots being used only in library or school settings, and we would strongly prefer them not being individually checked out. Some programs have had bad luck loaning out robots and not getting them returned. If you cannot return the Finches within the required time frame, you will need to purchase them.
I really want to get a loan, what can I do to increase my chances of being chosen?
The most important criteria for being selected for the loan program is to have a strong plan for what you will do with the Finches. Additionally, successful organizations used the Finches often and reached many students. You can improve your chances of being selected by understanding our criteria for selection.
Is the program really free?
Yes! Birdbrain Technologies will cover all shipping costs for the loan program. We'll also replace any robots that break due to normal wear and tear during the loan program. The Finch is a robust robot, but we understand that students can get very exuberant when working with the Finches ;).
Your organization will have to spend time training your staff on how to use the Finches and exploring which activities best suit the needs of your populations. We also require that you share your results with us to benefit other organizations who want to use the Finches to spread the joy of computer science.