Is Sphero the Droid you are looking for?
When it comes to using drones, droids all robots in the classroom many teachers baulk at what they see as an overwhelming phenomenon.
The truth is, using a droid, especially a tool like sphero in the classroom isn’t scary at all. In fact, it’s actually quite easy.
In this blog I will give three simple tips on how to effectively use droids in the classroom. To do this you need to have a quality Droid that you can use, for my mind Sphero is the best on the market. Mac Addict is the supplier I use for my Drones and Spheros and I know they have been able to look after many other teaching colleagues too. If you are thinking about buying a drone or a droid like a Sphero, getting in contact with Mac Addict would be a good place to start.
What is a Sphero? Is a droid or a robot?
Sphero is about the size of a cricket ball and roughly the same weight. It is waterproof and can literally roll in any direction that you ask it to. You can download some of the official Sphero apps like SPRK or Draw ‘N Drive however, you can also write the code and dictate to the sphero what you want it to do. The two best known apps for this Tynker and Tickle.
I’m going to talk about @tickleapp because it’s the one that I know best, simply because it’s the one that I use and I find it very easy to use. I am definitely not a programmer or coder. I am a teacher and I like to use tech. Coding can seem rather daunting but I have never seen an app be so user friendly and have such impressive impact on student excitement and engagement as @tickleapp. Tickle app is a block programming tool! Basically you drag and drop little jigsaw puzzle instructions into a line of code. Once you have the line of code (the set of instructions) that you want to use, you connect to your Sphero via Bluetooth and when you press play it actually does what you have coded it to do. The kids are blown away by the fact that they are able to have a direct impact on a real world object just buy coding on their mobile device. For my mind if you’re going to use Sphero you should also download the Tickle app.
Three Top Tips for using Shero in the classroom
- You can use it in Mathematics. Giving simple tasks that the students have to solve can allow them to experiment with different measurement concepts such as time/ speed and distance. You can also set tasks to have students measure angles accurately (I did this with masking tape on the floor) and even precisely program Sphero to create 2D shapes.
- As mentioned above, if you would like to teach coding to your students using a tool like Tickle app to do this is a wonderful idea. It will allow students to get an instant Real-Feel impact that coding can have. Best of all it’s not very hard for the teacher to understand and put in place.
- STEM challenges. The @SpheroEdu people have created a number of education lessons that allow teachers to download and teach with Sphero straight away. The STEM Challenge that I liked the most was Maze Mayhem. Here students are given a maze that they must examine and write the code for a Sphero to navigate. The maze idea sparked my #DronesInEd competition.
I hope you found this blog useful, if you do take up the challenge of using a droid in your classroom you might also like to check out #DronesInEd and participate in the competition. All you need to do is upload a 1 minute video of your class using a drone, droid or a robot.