Sphero in the Classroom
Guys – I am super excited to have my sister guest posting for us today. Selfishly I am so glad that she is a teacher – because I have already turned to her for advice for my kiddos. She is so passionate about teaching kids and making it fun. Check out how she has brought a couple of Sphero's into her classroom and ideas on how you can incorporate them into lessons at home!
As a classroom teacher, I am constantly looking for new ways to engage students in learning, with a hope that they will feel invested in the tasks and learning opportunities that I provide to them in the classroom. The tools and materials that I have in class will provide opportunities for my students to question, challenge, and feel inspired to take part in new learning and to truly provide a 21st century classroom environment.
Recently, I had the opportunity to introduce my students to two new Sphero Spark + Robots. Sphero is a machine that is easily integrated into many areas of the curriculum at a time in education when there is a push for computational thinking in schools. Although computational thinking, along with coding, is not currently mandated in Ontario schools, it is clear that it will form a large part of future jobs and what students will be faced with in the workforce. Sphero allows students of many age levels, because of its many entry points, to engage in computational thinking. The sphere shaped robot works through a connection to an app called Lightning Lab.There are three program types that the Sphero can follow: a hand drawn program (great for our youngest learners); a block coded program (block coding is a great introduction to coding); and a text program (for our more advanced users, ready to move on from block coding). Sphero can also be driven with a joystick feature, allowing many entry points for many learners! (Interested in more about computational thinking in school- watch Brian Aspinall, one of my mentors in education, Ted Talk Hacking the Classroom)
Below are some of the ways that we used Sphero in our classroom, but can also be used at home as well!
The Sphero Spark+ robot is waterproof, and therefore can nicely run through liquid materials without harm to its functions. We took advantage of this feature in order to paint!
We also used photography as one of our art explorations! The Sphero Spark+ can change colours. We utilized this feature in order to explore long exposure photography.
Students were invited to investigate what makes a structure strong and stable. The result? Lots of different structures to test! One way that we decided to test our structures was to see if the Sphero Spark+ could navigate through or over it. For younger learners, this could be an entry point for learning about directionality. Many people use codable robots to navigate through a maze – what an engaging way to learn our directions as well as problem solve!
This year we also had the opportunity to borrow a giant floor map, the size of a gym floor. While learning about different location in Canada, students were able to code Sphero Spark+ to travel to different locations. Through the draw program in Lightning Lab, we were able to keep track of distance the sphero was traveling (think of the math tie-ins!). This gave us an idea of just how big Canada is and the distance between different cities, provinces and territories. Although not everyone has a giant floor map available to them, this could work on any large-sized map.
The possibilities are unlimited, and the engagement endless.
Big thanks to Laura for sharing her lessons with us. For more info on Sphero SPRK head HERE