Our mission at BirdBrain Technologies is to inspire deep and joyful learning in all students through creative robotics. We are excited that you are joining us in creative robotics making through this course!

Before we begin to program our Hummingbird Robotics Kit*, it may be helpful to ask yourself…

What is a robot?

We define a robot as a machine that senses its environment, thinks about it, and then reacts. Can you think of some sensing, thinking, acting machines that you have interacted with today?


*Please note that this course is for Hummingbird Bit. Hummingbird Duo users can also use BirdBlox with the purchase of an upgrade bundle. Email with questions.

  • You can purchase a Hummingbird Robotics Kit here.

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Set up (IOS/Android/Kindle)

BirdBlox is a block-based coding language developed at BirdBrain Technologies. It is very similar to Scratch. One key advantage to programming in BirdBlox is that the code can be updated while it is running. In some other programming languages, the code needs to be downloaded every time you make a change. BirdBlox, by contrast, is always in contact with the Hummingbird Bit, making the code “tinkerable.”

BirdBlox can run on most tablets and smartphones. In order to connect the Hummingbird Bit to your device, you will need to download the BirdBlox application. You will also need to download a specific .hex file onto your micro:bit. This .hex file will allow the Hummingbird Bit to connect with BirdBlox.  In order to download the hex file, you will need to use a computer with a USB port.

Blinking a Single Color LED

As you are plugging in your single color LED, make sure the colored wire (green, red, or yellow) is plugged into the + side of the port, and the black wire is plugged into the – side of the port. As you are coding, double check to make sure the port number on the screen matches the port on the Hummingbird controller where you plugged in your LED. 

Once you get your LED blinking, what in your code will need to change to get that LED blinking faster?

Hummingbird Hacks with an LED

Now that you know how to get an LED to blink, what can you do with it? A blinking LED needs your creative design before it can become a robot. Watch this video for a creative tip to use with your LED. 

Blinking a Tri-Color LED

The same pattern you used to blink a single color LED will also allow a tri-color LED to blink between its different colors: red, green, and blue. 

Now that you can program the individual colors, can you mix those colors to create colors like purple, turquoise, and yellow?

Hummingbird Hacks with a Tri-Color LED

You can better mix and diffuse the LED light with a translucent material, for example with a packing peanut or a styrofoam ball. Even a white napkin or a piece of cloth would do the trick! This is a great time to experiment not only with your code, but with some of the translucent materials you have around your classroom.

Moving a Position Servo Motor

It is important to remember that when programming a position servo motor, the angle is constant. In other words, if you program your position servo to go to 90°, the servo will move to 90°, then stop. The position servo will not move again until you instruct it to go to a new angle.

Remember how you gave the single color LED two commands to alternate between 0% and 100%? Similarly, you must give the position servo at least 2 commands. Pick your favorite angles between 0° and 180°.

Hummingbird Hacks with a Position Servo

The servo horn is the little piece of plastic that fits on the servo shaft. Don’t be afraid to hot glue items onto it! When you add a unique design to the servo horn (a robot arm, a sail boat, an eyeball, etc.), it quickly transforms from a servo into your personal robot.

The Build Page

When learning the Hummingbird Bit, a lot of time is dedicated to programming and connecting components, but knowing how to build and engineer with craft materials is just as important. Our build pages were designed for you to get started with simple designs, but also to help you take your simple designs a bit further.

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Programming a Sensor

Remember, a robot is a machine that senses, thinks, and acts, so a sensor is a critical component within any robot. When plugged into a Hummingbird Bit, a sensor is constantly gathering data, and the trick is to put that data to work. In this video, we show you a few ways to use and visualize sensor data.

Adding a Sensor to a project

Adding a sensor will make the most simple projects more interactive. This interaction will also allow you to use your knowledge across a range of subjects, such as mathematics, social studies, and science. 

Additional Resources

The Teach and Resources Pages

Now that you can program with BirdBlox and you have some building skills, what projects can you do with the Hummingbird? 

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What Next?

We are so excited to see what you’ve created with the Hummingbird Robotics Kit. If you post any of your robots online please tag us @birdbraintech so we can appreciate your creativity!

Please keep in touch with us through our mailing list and our social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram).

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