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Chicago Public Library Lending 500 Finch Robots
May 12, 2014

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Public Library are partnering with Google Chicago to provide hands-on computer programming Finch Robots to Chicago Public Library patrons, helping to meet Mayor Emanuel’s goal of providing STEM education for Chicagoans of all ages.

Thanks to Google’s donation of 500 Finch Robots, anyone with an adult Chicago Public Library card can now check out one of the state-of-the-art robots in order to learn the basics of computer coding.

“These Finch Robots will offer Chicago Public Library patrons an introduction to crucial 21st century skills in a creative, easy-to-learn way that makes computer programming accessible to Chicagoans of all ages,” said Emanuel. “This partnership with Google Chicago is part of our comprehensive approach to expanding STEM education across the city, and I applaud Google for their contributions in ensuring that all residents have access to the cutting edge resources of tomorrow.”

The Chicago Public Library is the first library in the nation to be able to lend out Finch Robots. Carnegie Mellon University's CREATE Lab invented the Finch robot as a user-friendly introduction to computer science learning and the art of programming.

Designed to present an engaging introduction to the art of programming, the Finch supports more than a dozen of the most commonly used computer languages and environments, including several appropriate for students as young as eight years old. As students learn the basic concepts of coding, they are able to program the robot to do various functions, such as: move, make noises, light up, and even draw.

Users simply hook the device to their home computer or laptop and download various instructional tutorials from the website. Free access to these simple, fun tools will allow patrons of all ages to gain problem solving skills and confidence with technology while enjoying a hands-on experience with computer science.

“Getting students excited about computer science at the primary and secondary school level is critical. By providing the robots to the Library, we hope to inspire the next generation of technologists and computer scientists here in Chicago,” said Jim Lecinski, head of the Google Chicago office.

The robots are housed at six CPL locations and available to any adult patron across the city through the Library’s holds system. Interested users can simply request the item to be delivered to the library location of their choice through the Library’s website. The robots are available as single items or in packs of five, making it easy for teachers or community groups to check out multiple devices to teach larger groups.

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