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Using Sphero Specdrums In The Classroom

Specdrum ring and Boomwhackers with tablet

Since the development of Sphero 2.0 and more recently SPRK+ and BOLT, Spheros have become one of the most popular tools in schools all around the world to teach students the fundamentals of coding and computational thinking. As these technologies continue to iterate and improve, so do the opportunities to empower our students’ learning experiences with creative lesson design.

Sphero has released a new product in Specdrums. The Specdrums are rings that connect via Bluetooth to the Specdrums MIX or EDU apps, to create and play music, sounds or recorded audio when the rings touch specific colours. The great thing with Specdrums is that the rings can pick up on colours on any material, plastic, paper and even the paint on walls, making their use very versatile in the classroom.

The two apps you can use with Specdrums are;

Specdrums EDU App

EDU Logo

The Specdrums EDU app connects via Bluetooth to the Specdrums rings. It allows students to use the pre-programmed sound packs which include instruments, synths, strings, animals and sound effects. Students have the ability to create and record their own sounds. Students then link their sounds to specific colours, and when the Specdrums rings touch that colour the associated sound will play. When students have finalised their Specdrums colour codes they can be shared with others via the apps QR creator feature.

EDU App shown on phone screen

Specdrums MIX App

Mix App Logo

The Specdrums MIX app uses the Specdrums mat, which comes together with the Specdrums rings when purchased. It allows students to become their own DJ by exploring and creating their own musical remixes. Students have the ability to record their own voice and sounds that can then be played back when the ring touches the specific colours of the mat.

Sphero Specdrums was originally designed with the intention to create and produce music. Along with its use in the music classroom, Specdrums can be integrated and linked to other curriculum areas with creative lesson design. Here are some of my favourite integrated Specdrums lesson ideas;

 

Music
Students can explore and remix their own music by changing the colours to respond to notes and music scales in both the Specdrums EDU and the MIX apps. Within the EDU app students can click and select different instruments to play including the piano and stringed instruments, linking the notes to various colours which can be customised accordingly.

Boomwhackers Lesson:
Boomwhackers are eight polyethylene coloured percussion tubes perfectly tuned to the C major scale. As students learn about the specific sounds each note makes they can associate these with the various colours of the Boomwhackers. Using the Specdrums ring, students can then replicate these colours with the same scale.

ART
Students can bring their art masterpieces to life by creating sounds or recording explanations that are played when the Sphero Specdrums touches specific parts of their artwork.

Primary & Secondary Colours
When learning about primary and secondary colours, students can create art pieces and programme the Specdrums ring to pick up on colours within their art piece to explain their learning. For example, when the Sphero Specdrums touches a particular colour students can record themselves explaining what happens when that colour is mixed with another.

Specdrum Ring on coloured dot background

Feelings/ Emotions
Using a provocation such as the movie ‘Inside Out’ or the picture book ‘Feel A Little: Little Poems About Big Feelings’ by Jenny Palmer, students can learn about the various emotions we experience through coloured characters. Using the Sphero Specdrums, students can explain how they feel by touching the various colours with the Sphero Specdrums to explain their feelings. Students can create a remix of sounds and have other students try to guess what emotion they are trying to portray through the use of colour and sound.

Feel A Little Little Poems About Big Feelings by Jenny Palmer

Unit of Inquiry – Melbourne
With creative lesson design there are many ways to integrate the Sphero Specdrums into your units of work.

Connecting to our Year 3 unit looking at the History of Melbourne, students used the Sphero Specdrums together with a Sphero Bolt to create a model of the city of Melbourne. Students researched information about the unique buildings in Melbourne and then used coloured dots to create an interactive model where others could listen to their researched explanation. (Read previous post to read about how the Sphero Bolt was used to move the trams through the city)

Sphero bolt activity on classroom floor featuring paper contruction and melbourne pictures and tablet

Interactive Posters:
Students create posters or brochures all the time to showcase their learning on a range of topics. Using the Sphero Specdrums, students can enhance their completed product by recording themselves read and explain each key informative aspect of their work for others to listen and learn from. Here are two examples of interactive posters;

Sphero interactive body organs posterSphero interactive poster with tablet and specdrum ring

There are so many ways to use the Sphero Specdrums in the classroom. This new technology has only been available for a very short period of time and is continually being developed and improved to transform teaching and learning in our classrooms.

How have you used the Specdrums 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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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

 

Shop MTA>

 

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