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On a roll with Spheros

Programmable robots like Spheros, can have a lot of potential in the classroom. Here’s how some mini lessons played out yesterday, in a primary school setting.


Scenario 1: NASA team launches Rover on Mars

After students watched the following video about NASA rover completing it's mission on Mars. The scene was set, and the students were drafted into my personal NASA computer science team. Questions flowed about the NASA Rover Opportunity; how it was controlled it, how much it cost, rationale for exploring Mars etc. Natural leaders started to emerge; those most passionate about space, and as it turns out, most passionate about technologies.

Using ourselves as kidbots, we acted out some computational thinking concepts and ideas (algorithms, programming, testing and debugging) and talked about the need for precision in our step-by-step instructions. We were ready for our mission. We couldn’t wait to move into teams and create some simple block code, so our ‘mini rovers’ could manoeuvre across the landscape, avoid hazards and navigate into craters - much like the Sphero Maze activity. This resulted in a lot of engagement, interaction, creativity and problem solving. In one group, the Sphero ran flat, so a student became a kidbot and acted out the block code instead. 

Coding 1  Away we go  Block coding square    

Scenario 2: Rubbish crimefighters

Students watched the following video, Trash cleaning robot controlled by you about a fun and innovative initiative to clean the water ways in Chicago. Anyone can log-on and control a robot remotely, in real time (camera attached) to collect rubbish. This group of students got excited about the potential of combining robots and gaming to doing something good for society.

Rubbish wrappers Now we had a different mission. We worked in pairs to create some simple block code using the Sphero edu app, so that our mini ‘trash robots’ could seek and find rubbish wrappers. Again, a lot of noise, excitement, and creative ideas. One student wanted his robot to make chomping noises like a crocodile moving through the water eating all the rubbish. The teacher was also excited about the prospects of finding connections between technology areas, where students can design and test fabric jackets, so their Spheros can pick up rubbish in the classroom - much like the Mop Ball Mini Automatic Vacuum Cleaner (Designing and Developing Digital Outcomes).

These students learned to block code to create directional programmes (degrees, speed, duration), as well as light and sound using loops. At the end of the lessons, we discussed the learning needed (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths - STEM) as well as the skills needed (team player, creativity, collaboration and problem solving) to become part of these creative teams. 

Are you kids Sphero heroes? Have you got a Sphero lesson to share? I’d love to hear more.

Post cross-pollinated from Ngā Kiriahi.