Programming with Spheros
Spheros are a programmable robot in the form of a little ball about the size of a baseball. However, the fun is much, much bigger.
The only source of knowledge is experience.by Albert Einstein
One of the highlights of our Innovation Lab are Spheros. Kids love them. I love them.
Every grade level, KJindergarten to Fifth, uses Spheros. It helps them hone their problem-solving, logic, and reasoning skills. But, they don't know that. They just have fun.
What does it look like in the classroom?
We usually assign 1-2 kids per sphero. It works best in pairs. Instructions aren't available on the kids' level, but it's intuitive and easy to pick up.
Before the first class with Spheros, we explain the behavior expectations. There is a remote control in the app, but that's not why we work with Spheros in school. We're only allowed to program. If you're caught using the remote controls, you're not allowed to work with the app for the remainder of class. If it happens again, you lose the privilege. Our goal is not to punish, but to encourage programming. The kids pick up on it quickly. If not, work with them about what they want to accomplish and how that might look in the program.
With primary grades, I let them have freedom to program for the first class so they become familiar. Then, I have challenges each class. From "Go to the line 3 feet away, stop, then come back" to "Go to the end of the hall and turn left. Pause, then have your Sphero come back." They will learn quickly, but there will be hurdles along the way. That's where their learning will really skyrocket.
Older kids pick up quicker, but I place the same behavior expectations concerning the remote controls.
After the first orientation, I'll ramp up challenges with them. The kids enjoy having an obstacle course race. To start out, make it short and have them race a few times. Allow them some time to get the programming down. Encourage them to take notes in case their time runs out. Because so many kids use the apps, many times programs are deleted. Best to have written back-up.
If you don't have an idea of what to have your kids do in the Innovation Lab, have them work with Spheros for a while. They'll never want to do anything else!
Setting Spheros Up in Your Own Classroom
- Sphero cover (great if you don't want it scuffed up - buy before using)
- Painters' Tape (for making obstacle courses)
- 3d Printer (to print chariots or obstacle course features)
The covers I highly recommend. We didn't get them and now our Spheros look very rough with scuffs and scrapes all over them. I love the clear look. A cover preserves that. The charging station is just a place to plug in all of you chargers. I use the one listed because the chargers have a wide head on them and don't fit on many power strips.
All said, your per Sphero cost would be around $135 (including a portion of a power strip cost).
With a 3d printer, you can add banking turns, ramps, chariots, or have the kids design their own vehicles for the Spheros to control. So much is already available on Thingiverse, so check there for ideas.
Spheros are what the kids always come back to because they're so much fun. The programming, though, is the highlight for teachers. It may not be obvious, but the trial and error combined with the logic they have to use really helps them strengthen their thinking skills!