CUE STEAMpunk Lab: Sphero

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CUE STEAMpunk Lab

The past few days have been some of the most exciting and enaging for my students (and myself). It was our first hands-on experience with robots!

We had started coding a few weeks prior to the arrival of the CUE STEAMpunk Mobile Lab, and I was impressed at the ease with which students programmed games on code.org. It’s truly fascinating. This introduction to coding lent itself perfectly to using the Spheros in the classroom.

For the first few days students were asked to use a different app to gain the experience needed for culminating activities that I had planned for them. We started off with the Tickle app. Within  a matter of minutes, with no instruction whatsoever, students were programming the Spheros! Students were showing me how they made their Sphero dance or how to make it change colors. Other students speculated at the idea of programming their Sphero to show emotion by using certain movements and color. Students were teaching other students. And what was I doing? I was in the background taking it all in. The ultimate goal is for students to take accountability for their learning. This was a great example of student led learning in action.

Students were soon after introduced to the Sphero Draw N’ Drive app. Students were able to create patterns and the device would follow their input. Although, at first glance it seems like it’s a remote control, it is not. Students needed to calculate distance, for example. Many pulled out graphing paper and pencil, and started drawing out equivalent distances to map out their courses.

Finally, students used the SPRK Lightning Lab app. There was a divide amongst students. Some preferred using Tickle, while others preferred the SPRK Lightning Lab to program the Spheros. Both were effective coding apps, but it was interesting to see how some students preferred one over the other.

The culminating activities in our class consisted of a maze, a golf course, and drawing geometric figures. For the maze, students were required to use either the SPRK Lightning Lab app or the Tickle app. For charting and driving the course of a geometric figure, students were asked to use the  Draw N’ Drive app.  And for golf, students were allowed to use either the SPRK Lightning Lab app or the Tickle app.

Overall it was great experience and success. My students were incorporating all types of skills from cooperative learning, to critical thinking, to perseverance. Not once did I hear someone say “I can’t!” or “I don’t get this!” Not once! When can a teacher say that?

We are very grateful for the opportunity to access this technology. We are hoping that our school site will acquire a school site kit so that students from kindergarten, all the way to 6th grade can gain the experience that my class acquired. We are privileged and grateful. Thank you CUE STEAMpunk Lab!

For more information on the CUE STEAMpunk Lab visit: http://www.cue.org/steampunk

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