Makeathon and Petting Zoo


Join Birdbrain Technologies in a

fun & creative making experience!

September 26 & 27, 2015, 10am - 5pm

Girls of Steel Practice Field, 2515 Liberty Ave., Pittsburgh



Our Makeathon is a free event where high school students can experience a fun introduction to programming, design, and engineering. The Makeathon is designed to be beginner friendly. The goal is to introduce kids to technology in a creative and welcoming way.


Participants will be teamed up and work collaboratively over two days learning coding, electronics, and physical prototyping by building an interactive robotic pet. The goal of these animatronic animals is to delight the public, which makes art, creativity, and humor essential skills in the design process.  Students will be led by Birdbrain Technologies staff and mentors in beginner-friendly programming and engineering workshops. Students will learn how to use the CREATE lab visual programmer to operate a Hummingbird Duo microcontroller. The Hummingbird will essentially serve as the "brain" of the robotic pet. Using craft materials such as cardboard and construction paper, students will use their creativity to bring their robotic creatures to life.

Two weeks after the makeathon we will showcase the creations to the community at a Robot Petting Zoo at the Pittsburgh Maker Faire. Participants are strongly encouraged and will receive free admission to attend the Maker Faire on October 10 & 11, to show off their fabulous pets.  Members of the community will have the opportunity to delight in the pets and vote for the robots in fun categories like hungriest, cutest, best trained, and more!


Because gender and income should not be barriers to engineering education, at least 50% of Makeathon participants will be girls, and we're going to provide everything needed: computers, materials, training, and of course, food!


Using these beginner friendly tools in a fun, creative, and collaborative environment, we plan to have a makeathon that is welcoming to everyone, and can help bring more diversity into the fields of technology and engineering.


A big thanks to the TechHive at the Lawrence Hall of Science for the idea and inspiration behind the Robot Petting Zoo Makeathon. You can watch a video of the first Robot Petting Zoo Makeathon ever, which took place in May, 2015:


And thanks to AJ Almaguer of the TechHive who created all the awesome graphics!

We hope that you will join us: as a participant in our makeathon, as one of our mentors, or by hosting your own Robot Petting Zoo. Contact if you have any questions!



  • No experience necessary! Beginners welcome!

  • Must be a current high school student.

  • Must be able to commit to attending 10am to 5pm on Saturday September 26th, and Sunday, September 27th.




  • An introduction to robotics, including computer science, design, and electronics.

  • Experience of building a robot from start to finish.

  • A crazy, creative, fun weekend!

  • Tickets to attend the Pittsburgh Maker Faire.

  • An awesome Hummingbird t-shirt.

  • New friends!


Q: Can I take home the robotics kit after the Makeathon?

A: No, sorry we're going to reuse the kits to hold more awesome makeathons in the future!

Q: Can I take home my pet?

A:  No, they're going to be on display at our Robot Petting Zoo at the Pittsburgh Maker Faire at the Children’s Museum on October 10 & 11. We'll make and share lots of videos and pictures of your creations!

Q: I'm a teacher, can my students apply?

A: Yes! We’d love to have your high school students apply! You can also apply to be a mentor for the event by emailing us at

Q: Where is the Makeathon being held?

A: In the Strip district at 2515 Liberty Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Thanks Girls of Steel for providing the space for this event!

Q: When is the Makeathon being held?

A: Saturday, September 26th and Sunday, September 27th, from 10am to 5pm.

Q: I can only come on one day of the Makeathon, is that okay?

A: Unfortunately no. Participants need to be able to attend both full days of the makeathon. We also strongly encourage that you attend at least one day of the Maker Faire on October 10 & 11 to present your pet to the public.

Q: I don’t know anything about robotics, are you sure this is right for me?

A: Yes! Absolutely no robotics or programming experience is required. What you will need to bring is your creativity and willingness to try new things!