For the past two weeks, my PLTW (Project Lead the Way) Introduction to Engineering and Introduction to Computer Programming classes have been programming Spheros and Ollies to complete simple tasks.
Using the Tickle App on their iPads students programmed the device of their choice to navigate various courses.
The Tickle App uses Apple’s Swift programming language. Swift is a simple to use drag-n-drop platform that provides an easy segue to computer programming.
Students are not saddled with learning complex text-based coding languages. The syntax is always correct, students simply must organize the instructions in a logical way to direct their Sphero or Ollie to complete simple tasks.
As educators, we are to prepare our students for an ever-changing world. The students need to be prepared for jobs that do not yet exist.
Job statistics tells us that many of the new jobs will be in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. Yet many of our students shy away from course that will prepare them for the jobs of the future.
Spheros & Ollies are a great way to spark interest in Robotics & Coding
- The first two days of our unit were play dates with the Spheros and Ollies.
- Students were encouraged to try a variety of Apps designed for Spheros and Ollies. We used Drive and Draw, Sphero, Ollie, SpheroCam, SpheroGolf and Tickle. These Apps are free to install and use on the iPads.
- Students tried both a Sphero and an Ollie.
Programming is simple and visual!
- Students were presented various courses and challenges for which they were to program their Sphero or Ollie.
- As they developed and tested their program, they could see immediate results. The drag-n-drop coding and immediate test results make it easier for concrete thinkers to experience success.
- Students seamlessly applied math skills in their quests to complete the challenges.
- There is a misconception that programming is an isolated task. Not so. Programmers share ideas, work together to solve problems and in the process, develop the best possible solution. They are engineers using the engineering design process.
- It was a pleasure to see students collaborate and share ideas in order to solve the programming challenges for their Spheros and Ollies.
- The robotics job field is continuing to grow. All my students enjoyed their experience with the Spheros and Ollies.
- A gently introduction takes the mystery out of this STEM field and makes it an option for students to consider as they make academic and career choices.
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Sphero - Color Changing Course
Students programmed their device to travel from color block to color block. The device had to change colors when it reached a new block. The blocks were different distances apart.
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Sphero or Ollie Mini Maze
Students programmed their device to travel through the maze. Angles made the coding just a bit more challenging.
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Sphero or Ollie Tree Perimeter
A bit of math was required to complete this challenge. Students programmed their device to trace the perimeter of the pine tree. They had to determine the angles for multiple turns.
These students demonstrated good programming habits by adding and testing just a few lines of code at a time. They also did a great job collaborating to complete the challenge.
Indiana Standards Covered
6-8.CD.1 Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between hardware and software.
6-8.CD.4 Describe what distinguishes humans from machines focusing on human intelligence versus machine intelligence and ways we can communicate, as well as ways in which computers use models of intelligent behavior (e.g., robot motion, speech and language understanding, and computer vision).
6-8.DI.1 Use the basic steps in algorithmic problem-solving to design solutions (e.g., problem statement and exploration, examination of sample instances, design, implementing a solution, testing, and evaluation).
6-8.PA.1 Select appropriate tools and technology resources to support learning and personal productivity, publish individual products, and design, develop, and publish data, accomplish a variety of tasks, and solve problems.
6-8.PA.2 Implement problem solutions using a programming language that includes looping behavior, conditional statements, logic, expressions, variables, and functions.
6-8.PA.3 Demonstrate dispositions amenable to open-ended problem solving and programming (e.g., comfort with complexity, persistence, brainstorming, adaptability, patience, propensity to tinker, creativity, accepting challenge).
6-8.NC.2 Exhibit dispositions necessary for collaboration: providing useful feedback, integrating feedback, understanding and accepting multiple perspectives, socialization.
ICS-2.4 Formulate algorithms using programming structures
ICS-2.5 Assess a program by testing and verifying accuracy
ICS-5.1 Design a solution to a problem by working in a team