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Sphero Bolt And SPRK+ In The Classroom

Sphero Shape Activity birds eye view featuring Sphero Bolt & SPRK robotics and 2 students on carpet.

The way we engage our students and support their learning continues to evolve as we move further into the 21st century. There are now many technological tools, resources and applications that can enhance our students’ learning when used to redefine their learning experiences.

The Sphero robot is one such tool that has positively enhanced students’ learning. The amazingly versatile Sphero robot will engage and empower your students with hands-on learning. A tennis ball-sized robot connected via Bluetooth to a mobile device, the Sphero can be used to transform teaching and learning across various curriculum areas. In this blog post, we will look at the range of Sphero products on the market and their varying capabilities and prices.

Sphero SPRK+
The Sphero SPRK+ can roll at a speed of up to 7km/h in any direction. It can also spin, flip and change colour. Using a range of apps, students can code the Sphero to direct its movement.

Sphero Spark

 

Sphero BOLT
The Sphero BOLT is the latest product in the Sphero range and includes all the features of the SPRK+ along with the addition of a striking LED matrix and advanced sensors to track speed, acceleration and directions. The Sphero BOLT also features infrared communication, allowing it to “talk” to other BOLTs.

Sphero Bolt on white background

 

Creatively designed lessons incorporating Spheros can develop many of the skills we want for our learners. Students will be designing and creating code to direct the Sphero while collaborating, problem-solving, testing and thinking critically and creatively, all fundamental characteristics of 21st-century learners.

 

Lesson Ideas:

Sphero Mini Golf

Sphero golf hole with tablet and number 1

Students develop their coding skills by creating and playing a game of Sphero Mini Golf.

Materials:

    • Spheros (one per group)
    • Masking tape or chalk
    • Kinder squares and circles
    • Mini Golf template (free Sphero Mini Golf  PDF download)

 

  •  Sphero golf hole with 2 students and number 3

Procedure:

    • Create nine mini-golf holes around the classroom. Using masking tape, chalk or other materials, clearly mark the outline of each hole and use a kinder circle to number each hole.
    • Students code the Sphero in the Sphero Edu App to get it to make its way to the hole (coloured circle).
    • Students record how many lines of code it took for them to code the Sphero to each hole on the scoring sheet.

 

Angles and Shapes

Sphero Angles and Shapes birds eye view

Students apply their knowledge and understanding of shapes and angles by creating them with the Sphero.

Materials:

 

Sphero Angles and Shapes activity. Track on floor students holding tabletSphero Angles and Shapes activity. Track on floor.

Procedure:

    • Design a 2D shape that includes three different types of angles on planning sheet.
    • Create the shape on the classroom floor using masking tape or chalk and a protractor.
    • Code the Sphero in the Sphero Edu App to manoeuvre around their shape.

 

 

Chariots

Sphero Chariot activity. Sphero Robotic & Chariot created out of art & craft materials

Students create chariots using various art and craft materials to dress the Sphero.

Materials:

    • Sphero (one per group)
    • Various arts and craft materials

Sphero Chariot activity. Sphero Robotic & Chariot 2 created out of art & craft materialsSphero Chariot activity. Sphero Robotic & Chariot 3 created out of art & craft materials

 

Procedure:

    • On paper, students design a chariot for their Sphero.
    • Students create their chariot and place it on their Sphero.
    • Students code the Sphero in the Sphero EDU app to race the chariots to find a winner and to test if their creations stay assembled.

 


Sphero Swimming

Sphero swimming activity. Sphero robot tablet and bowl of water on table.

As the Sphero robot is waterproof, you can design lessons that incorporate water.

Materials:

    • Sphero
    • Tub of water or school swimming pool
    • Rubber bands

Sphero swimming activity. Sphero robot floating in water.

Procedure:

    • Place the Sphero in a tub of water or school swimming pool.
    • Have students predict what will happen.
    • Add a rubber band around the Sphero and have students predict what changes may take place in the water and then test again.
    • Explore what happens when you add multiple rubber bands to the outside of the Sphero.

 


Sphero Art

Sphero Art activity. Finished painted artwork on canvas.

Using water-based paint, the Sphero can be dipped into any colour to then create a masterpiece.

Materials:

    • Sphero
    • Water-based paint
    • Baby wipes (used for cleaning Sphero)
    • Paper
    • Walls to keep Sphero contained (I suggest using the lids of A4 or A3 paper boxes)

Sphero Art activity. Sphero robots painting canvas inside boxes. Paints and tablet on table.

Procedure:

    • Dip or cover the Sphero in paint.
    • Students code the Sphero in the Sphero EDU app or drive the Sphero over their paper to create their masterpieces.
    • Make sure you use baby wipes to clean the paint off each Sphero.

 


Integrated Learning

Sphero Integrated learning Activity. When you go to Melbourne book. Paper mache bus & Sphero Robot on table Sphero Integrated learning activity. Structure & bus made from newspapers. Pictures of Melbourne landmarks

With creative lesson design, there are many ways to integrate the Sphero in your units of work.

Connecting to our Year 3 unit looking at the history of Melbourne, the Sphero was used to integrate these curriculum areas;

    • History
    • Mathematics – 3D objects
    • Art – Design
    • Digital Technologies

Materials:

    • Sphero
    • Newspaper
    • Small boxes

Sphero Integrated learning activity. Structure & bus made from newspapers. Picture of stadium Sphero Integrated learning activity. Structure & bus made from newspapers. 2 Pictures of Melbourne landmarks

Procedure:

    • Students use newspaper to design and create iconic Melbourne buildings or landmarks.
    • Students use boxes to design and create a Melbourne tram.
    • Situate the buildings and landmarks around the classroom to represent the city.
    • Placing the Sphero inside the trams, students code the Sphero in the Sphero EDU app to manoeuvre to each building or landmark in the city.

 

Each of these activities demonstrates the versatility of using Spheros in your classroom and how they can be used creatively to support student learning. The hands-on learning experiences reinforce learned concepts while developing the key 21st-century skills of communication,  problem-solving, creativity and critical thinking. There really are limitless possibilities of how Sphero can be integrated into student learning.

 

Featured Products:

Sphero SPRK+

Sphero Bolt

 

How have you used Sphero in your classroom?

 

About the author

Eleni Kyritsis is an award-winning Year 3 teacher and Leader of Curriculum and innovation from Melbourne, Australia. Eleni facilitates professional learning workshops around the world that focus on unleashing creativity and curiosity in classrooms. You can contact her at elenikyritis.com and @misskyritsis

 

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Changing Role Of Digital Technology In The Classroom

Child playing a Bloxels activity on iPad

After teaching in the classroom for the past seven years, I have been fortunate and excited to have moved into the role of Leader of Curriculum & Innovation at my school. This means I no longer have my own class, and allows me the opportunity to work closely with all teachers across our school to unpack the curriculum to design, plan and implement innovative and creative learning opportunities for our students. As teachers, we need to ensure we are designing learning experiences for our students that cover a range of topics and skills to support them for their future. This is what I love.

 

 

In recent years, the addition of the Technologies strand to the Australian Curriculum has led to many teachers calling the curriculum ‘overcrowded’ and reporting that there is just ‘not enough time to teach everything’ that it encompasses. I wholeheartedly agree with these sentiments if the curriculum is taught in silos, but by taking an integrated approach across the curriculum, teachers can design learning experiences that cover several learning areas at the same time.

The Australian Curriculum states that the learning area of Technologies aims to develop the knowledge, understanding and skills to ensure that, individually and collaboratively, students:

  • investigate, design, plan, manage, create and evaluate solutions;
  • are creative, innovative and enterprising when using traditional, contemporary and emerging technologies, and understand how technologies have developed over time;
  • make informed and ethical decisions about the role, impact and use of technologies in the economy, environment and society for a sustainable future;
  • engage confidently with and responsibly select and manipulate appropriate technologies − materials, data, systems, components, tools and equipment − when designing and creating solutions;
  • critique, analyse and evaluate problems, needs or opportunities to identify and create solutions.

The Technologies learning area is then separated into two components; Design and Technologies and Digital Technologies.

Design and Technologies, in which students use design thinking and technologies to generate and produce designed solutions for authentic needs and opportunities.

Digital Technologies, in which students use computational thinking and information systems to define, design and implement digital solutions.

In this post I will share ways to integrate a variety of digital technologies across the curriculum to support you in designing engaging and meaningful learning experiences. A focus of these lesson ideas is to develop students’ communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaborative skills.

Junior Primary Ideas (Foundation – Year 2) :

Some of my favourite digital technologies to integrate in the Junior Primary classroom include, BeeBots, Dot & Dash and Cubetto. Each of these robots is very user-friendly, allowing younger learners the opportunity to be introduced to sequencing code while developing their confidence.

 

BeeBot 3 little pigs activity with picture cards on grid

 

BeeBots are small robots that can move forwards and backwards in 15cm increments and turn 90 degrees left and right. They have the ability to remember up to 40 sequences of code.

Dot and Dash are two individual robots that connect via Bluetooth to mobile devices. With a variety of Apps to control these robots, they have ability to manoeuvre around the floor in all directions, sense objects, flash LED lights and record and play back audio.

Cubetto is a wooden cube robot that moves in 15cm increments. Physical blocks are used to sequence code to manoeuvre Cubetto around a grid.

 

Cubetto space activity on mat

 

Literacy – Using story books as provocations, have students demonstrate their comprehension of the text by creating particular scenes of the story by coding any of the above robots to move around that scene.

Mathematics – Using the above technologies students develop their understanding of directional language, location and mapping skills.

 

Dash maths activity on grid with numbered and lettered cards

I have written numerous MTA  blog posts that explain lesson ideas for the Junior Primary classroom in further detail. Click the following links for more details lesson ideas. Many of these ideas can also be used with Cubetto too.

Australian Curriculum Links
English:
Foundation:

  • Identify some features of texts including events and characters and retell events from a text (ACELT1578)
  • Retell familiar literary texts through performance, use of illustrations and images (ACELT1580)
  • Innovate on familiar texts through play (ACELT1831)

Year 1:

  • Recreate texts imaginatively using drawing, writing, performance and digital forms of communication (ACELT1586 )

Year 2:

  • Create events and characters using different media that develop key events and characters from literary texts (ACELT1593)

Mathematics:
Foundation:

  • Describe position and movement (ACMMG010)

Year 1:

  • Give and follow directions to familiar locations (ACMMG023)

Year 2:

  • Interpret simple maps of familiar locations and identify the relative positions of key features (ACMMG044)

Digital Technologies F-2

  • Follow, describe and represent a sequence of steps and decisions (algorithms) needed to solve simple problems (ACTDIP004)

 

Dash activity with road drawing and boxes placed to replicate buildings

 

Middle Primary Ideas (Year 3 & 4):
As students’ understanding of Digital Technologies and computational thinking develops, we need to design their learning experiences accordingly. My favourite resources for these classes are Bloxels Builder and Sphero.

 

Child playing Bloxels activity on laptop

 

Bloxels Builder is a fantastic platform that allows students to be the creators of their own games. Using the free Bloxels Builder app or the physical gameboard, students use their creativity to design a character and game.

 

Sphero iPad activity on floor with a route made from tape

Spheros can roll at a speed of up to 7km/h in any direction, spin, flip and change colour. Using the Sphero EDU App students can accurately direct the movement of the Sphero using block code.

 

Bloxels
Literacy – Students create a game that represents a virtual story.

Child playing a Bloxels Literacy activity on iPad

Mathematics – Using the 13 x 13 grid, students’ creations will demonstrate their understanding of multiplication, fractions, and area/perimeter.

Bloxels maths activity on iPad with task card

 

Sphero
Mathematics – Students can create shapes, navigate mazes and obstacles and play games that require them to demonstrate their understanding of angles, length, time, speed.

Sphero maths activity with shaped marked on floor

 

Australian Curriculum Links:
English:
Year 3:

  • Create imaginative texts based on characters, settings and events from students’ own and other cultures using visual features, for example perspective, distance and angle (ACELT1601)

Year 4:

  • Create literary texts that explore students’ own experiences and imagining (ACELT1607)

Mathematics:
Year 3:

  • Create and interpret simple grid maps to show position and pathways (ACMMG065)

Year 4:

  • Use simple scales, legends and directions to interpret information contained in basic maps (ACMMG090)
  • Compare angles and classify them as equal to, greater than, or less than, a right angle (ACMMG089)
  • Recall multiplication facts up to 10 × 10 and related division facts (ACMNA075)
  • Compare objects using familiar metric units of area and volume (ACMMG290)

Digital Technologies 3-4:

  • Define simple problems, and describe and follow a sequence of steps and decisions (algorithms) needed to solve them (ACTDIP010)
  • Implement simple digital solutions as visual programs with algorithms involving branching (decisions) and user input (ACTDIP011)

Upper Primary Ideas (Year 5 & 6):
Upper Primary years students have the ability to apply their learnt skills and knowledge of digital technologies to create solutions to problems. My favourite resources for Upper Primary years are the Micro:bit and SamLabs.

The Micro:bit is a small microcontroller with LED lights, sensors, accelerometer and compass.

Microbit activity using light sensors and pom poms on shoes

SamLabs are wireless blocks and accessories that connect together including motors, sliders, buttons, lights and sensors.

Sam Labs activity using light sensors and pom poms on cups

Lesson idea – Using the United Nations Sustainable Goals as a guide, I select two or three goals that link to our unit of inquiry. Students are asked to focus on one of these goals and to create a solution to this problem using either the Micro:bit or SamLabs technologies.

Sam Labs classroom activity with trees ad grass made from natural materialsChild creating Sam Labs sustainability house with solar panels and garden made out of card

I explore this in more detail (with student examples) in my MTA Blog:  Integrating Sam Labs in the Classroom 

Digital tech16

Australian Curriculum Links:

Digital Technologies 5-6:

  • Define problems in terms of data and functional requirements drawing on previously solved problems (ACTDIP017)
  • Design, modify and follow simple algorithms involving sequences of steps, branching, and iteration (repetition) (ACTDIP019)
  • Implement digital solutions as simple visual programs involving branching, iteration (repetition), and user input (ACTDIP020)
  • Explain how student solutions and existing information systems are sustainable and meet current and future local community needs (ACTDIP021)

Science:
Year 5:

  • Scientific knowledge is used to solve problems and inform personal and community decisions (ACSHE083)

Year 6:

  • Electrical energy can be transferred and transformed in electrical circuits and can be generated from a range of sources (ACSSU097)
  • Scientific knowledge is used to solve problems and inform personal and community decisions (ACSHE100)

Whether it be the digital technologies I have highlighted, or any other, technology in our classrooms they should not be seen as something separate, but rather something that is integrated purposefully into student learning experiences. These technologies provide hands-on learning opportunities that allow for students to develop critical thinking, creativity and problem solving.

Featured Products:

Dash & Dot Educational Robots Pack 

BeeBots

Cubetto

Bloxels

Sam Labs Classroom Kit

Micro:bit Starter Kit

Sphero SPRK+

Sphero Bolt

 

How are you using Digital Technologies across the curriculum? We would love to hear from you!

About the Author

Eleni Kyritsis is an award winning teacher from Melbourne. She is the Leader of Curriculum and Innovation at Strathcona Baptist Girls Grammar. Eleni facilitates professional learning workshops around the world that focus on unleashing creativity and curiosity in classrooms. You can contact her at elenikyritis.com and @misskyritsis