Sunday, October 2, 2016

Putting Robots to work in the Classroom

There are several types of robots which have become popular in classrooms over the past few years.  They include Dash and Dot, Spheros and Ozobot.  Each of these has different benefits and your own creativity is the limit for how it might be used in your classroom, but here is some information on them and ideas for them to hopefully inspire you to try something new.

What you need
  • Has a toggle between “Drive” mode and “Programming” mode
  • Fun to drive
  • Virtually indestructible
  • Very easy to turn on and connect
  • App comes with challenge ideas
  • An “educator kit” comes with 12 spheros and chargers, measuring tape, protractors and stickers
  • “Programming” mode allows kids to try out coding on their own
  • Need accessories for more advanced usage, such as outdoors
  • Controls can be difficult for younger kids
  • Better for using on the floor
  1. Lightning Lab app (iOS/Android)
  2. Device with bluetooth to control it (iPad or other mobile device)
  3. Teacher Account and student accounts (if you want to save your students’ programs) on Lightning Lab
  4. To email Theresa and ask her to borrow them! :)
  • Great for younger kids
  • Two-parts allows for greater use
  • Teaches a simple type of coding, exposing kids to this growing STEM field
  • Speak and make sounds to accompany actions
  • Senses objects around them
  • Reacts to light and sound
  • Needs accessories for more advanced options
  • Pricier than other robots
  • Should be used on the floor preferably
  1. Mobile device with bluetooth
  2. One of the four apps to operate Dash and Dot (more info here).
  • Control with block-based programming and coding that is also color-coded
  • Play with multiple LED lights for different effects
  • Very small - only 1 cubic inch (good for table top play)
  • Charge and program with a computer
  • Follows lines and detects colors
  • Much cheaper than other robots
  • Smaller and more fragile
  • Must use the website to program it
  • Has a one-time upgrade fee of $9.99
  • Works best with the starter kit
  1. Ozoblockly website
  2. Computer with USB port for charging
  3. Set of markers for color detecting

The strength of these devices is in their ability to allow students to experience inquiry and project-based learning.  They can be used in a variety of ways, from being a pawn that moves through a review game, to an exercise in communication on the steps involved in a process.  Consider the concepts you are teaching this year and ask, “How could this be a tool in my classroom?”

Two middle school students program their Sphero to follow the line
Not every kid needs to learn to code.  Not every kid will work in STEM fields someday.  But every kid is inspired when you use 21st century technologies in their learning.  If you are interested in using the Spheros set of 12 that we already have in the library, please let me know and I would be happy to loan them to you or work with you on using them in the classroom.

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