Play is a Powerful Tool
Technology: Remote controlled robots (Sphero) linked to iPad
SAMR rating: redefinition
Subject Areas: Geometry and measurement, graphing, coordinate planes, algebra, d=rt formula, Art, and more.
Cost: initial investment hits hard ($500) but I feel after two sessions, I have gotten my money’s worth. 10$ per student also puts it in perspective.
I have had about 50 4-5 graders work with these robots for about two sessions each. Some of the learning for these initial lessons was on their part but most of it was on me. I had to spend time understanding the bluetooth connections and the best ways to distribute the ten Spheros and iPads without getting confused and avoiding tech glitches. A lot of it went smoothly, but I definitely made some mistakes when I was setting them up to be distributed. The second sessions went more smoothly and I foresee more ease in distribution and consistent care for the Spheros.
The lesson was largely an introduction to the Sphero and my expectations for use and behavior around them. Some things as simple as “don’t set the Sphero color to ‘no color’ because it is hard to know if it is shut down” and some ideas as complicated as connecting using bluetooth recognition when there are 11 Spheroes to choose from.
For the most part, I need these students to be familiar with the way Sphero acts and reacts as well as what it can do and basic trouble shooting. The upcoming sessions with Sphero require that they have strong familiarity with the Sphero because they will be asked to use the Macro Lab to program their Sphero to do specific tasks.
SO I LET THEM PLAY THESE SESSIONS while I iron out any tech glitches.
I let them try things, ask questions, answer questions, and get the anxiety of excitement out of the way. I had them drive the robots and explore. I asked them to control the Sphero with precision through obstacles that could be knocked down. Once to avoid knocking them down and of course once while trying to knock them all down. I had them work with another Sphero in cooperation to move objects.
Students are now coming up with different games we could play and addressing rules of engagement with the Spheros. These students are so excited.
When the “play time” is over, we have some serious tasks to take on.
Thanks to SPRK (spark. Student, parent, robots, kids) we have about 6-7 different tasks to explore specifically designed for 4-5 graders and linked to the common core.
Up next, students will be using the D=RT formula in combination with the ROLL function in the Macro Lab. Students will manipulate the parameters of the ROLL function to make a graph that will be used for reference. For example, if a student wants to move the Sphero 4 feet, how are they going to do it? There are many (infinite) ways to do this. Sphero could travel slow for a longer time or Sphero could travel fast for a short time to cover the same distance. I like the CHOICE that this offers.
That is all for now. I will be back with more to share and show.