When a Sphero comes along

A few months ago I wrote about my desire to get some Spheros in school and learn how they might be used in lessons to meet the ks2 computing curriculum in a creative and engaging way. Since then I’ve taken delivery of 10 new Spheros and started a Coding Club with children from each class in the school. I wanted to begin with a club so I could iron out any teething problems before introducing them across the school. While I made sure each class was represented so that when they do go into the classrooms each teacher will have a few experts to call upon to help them out, should they need it.

The purpose of this post is to give an update on where we are now and pass on the things I’ve learnt along the way.

You need a lot of space.

It turns out 16 children and 8 spheros in one classroom can be a confusing squeeze. The robots are controlled by iPads via Bluetooth and sometimes keeping them all connected can be an issue as can finding enough room for each child to explore the capabilities of the apps we have been using.  It was great fun when we got into the school hall and had a race!

Be organised.

Have a designated iPad for each Sphero. I began by getting any iPad and searching for devices to connect via Bluetooth. This is fine if you only want to connect one or two, but will take ages if you want to connect 10. Each device has it’s own 3 letter code. I’ve written these on to each Sphero and also made a note of them on the designated iPads. This has simplified the logging on process and keeps the children engaged.

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Keep it simple.

During our Coding Club sessions I set the children a variety of challenges. By far the most successful ones were the simplest. The challenge in the video above was to race up the hall, turn around past the cones and then race back. This allowed the children to use the Tickle app to create their own algorithms and debug them in order to accomplish a specific goal. Other challenges included being the fastest around a chair and following a paper path on the floor.

It does the job.

We purchased the robots to help meet the ‘design, write and debug programs that accomplish specific goals, including controlling or simulating physical systems; solve problems by decomposing them into smaller parts ‘ bit of the KS2 computing curriculum. I’m very happy that we fulfil our statutory requirements comfortably here. But more than that we are discovering many cross-curricular possibilities and the children absolutely love them.

What next?

The next challenge is to plan a scheme of work that can be delivered to the whole class. I’ll probably write another blog post as and when that happens, I’ll just have to think of another sphero based pun first.

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