Sphero – From Club to Classroom

Yesterday HSE21 Shorts featured a new club at Fall Creek Intermediate School: Club Sphero. Club Sphero is essentially a computer coding experience where, as sponsor Brad Lowell puts it, “the learning is disguised within the fun”! 

What’s especially exciting to those of us who’ve followed Hour of Code (and realized what an essential skill coding can be), is the possibilities Sphero brings to the classroom. I asked Mr. Lowell how he and his colleagues plan to integrate Spheros and coding into their curriculum in the future.

Have you used the Spheros in class as well? Or just during the after school club?

We are planning on using Spheros much more next year in the classroom. Here are just some ideas we have brainstormed, based on our particular academic standards:

  • Ecosystems: Sphero tag to demonstrate predator prey relationships, classification, or invasive species
  • Space: Coding moon phases; coding or creating orbits of planets; demonstrating the process of nuclear fusion in the sun where the Spheros are coded as atoms or photons; coding rotation vs. revolution and/or elliptical orbits.
  • Matter: Spheros representing the particles in states of matter. I’m going to try this, see the attached picture.phase changes…using Spheros to represent subatomic particles when given an element.there’s got to be something we could do with physical and chemical changes.
  • Technology: Engineering lunar rovers (Sphero powered) to navigate the moon’s surface (in sand); engineering boat/barges to transport mass over a distance; engineering Indy 500 racers to compete in a race in May; engineering Sphero semi-chariots to carry mass; coding obstacle course.
  • Social Studies: Sphero racing to states and capitals on our outdoor recess concrete map.
  • Math: Coordinate graph racing (race to a given set of ordered pairs) coding regular and irregular figures.

And one final question for Mr. Lowell:

What, from a teacher’s perspective, has been the best thing about this endeavor?

The kids are picking up coding quickly and are really enjoying engineering around the Sphero.  I love seeing them get excited about their learning.  They like having the power to control their own designing and learning.


To learn more about computer coding as a 21st century skill, check out the website of Code.org.

For more details on how objects like Sphero can help develop coding skills, visit the Sphero website.

Club Sphero: “The Learning Is Disguised Within the Fun!”

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 9.14.01 PMMany thanks to Fall Creek Intermediate science teacher Brad Lowell for sharing the evolution of Club Sphero. What a perfect example of using today’s digital tools to extend and deepen learning! 

How did Club Sphero get started?

The club started almost on accident.  I saw the Sphero for the first time at a birthday party for a friend’s wife.  Listening to a teacher in Carmel talk about how they used them only started my wheels spinning.  After showing my students the online video clips for Sphero, many said they already had them but didn’t really IMG_2604play with them much.  I had them bring their Spheros in one morning before school and saw how much excitement they generated and the club just took off from there.  My co-sponsor, Josh Tegrotenhuis [also a science teacher at FCI] had his kids bring theirs.  Two weeks into our informal club, we had over 30 kids showing.  We started off with a few old putting holes playing putt-putt golf with various obstacles, played some ‘World Cup’ Sphero soccer, coded bowling, and are now playing ‘Final Four’ basketball.  The kids keep coming and they keep challenging Josh and I as teachers to come up with new fun ways of using the Spheros.  The learning is really disguised within. the fun.  We’ve coupled the club with 3d printing and it has taken us to a whole new level of design and learning.

IMG_2604What skills, abilities, and interests are the students developing?

Cooperation, coding, science, math, engineering, and technology.

What do you think has made the club so successful? 

The club is very interactive and students get to use their devices.  I think the kids really like learning outside the classroom and beyond the textbook.  Keeping the learning game-oriented makes it fun and competitive for them.

Coding in the Real World

sce1Students at Sand Creek Elementary participated in Hour of Code during their library time with Mrs. Collier, SCE’s media specialist. After the students understood the meaning of ‘coding’ and had gotten a chance to practice, it was time to make it real, and third-grade teacher Lorena Forbes, had just the connection that was needed!

sce2Mrs. Forbes brought her husband, Randy Forbes, to school for the day! Mr. Forbes is a software engineer with Salesforce, and is experienced in all types of coding. Mr. Forbes traveled to several classes to give students some background on what computer programmers do in the real world. The biggest surprise for students was that Mr. Forbes’ job isn’t all about gaming! Mr. Forbes also worked with some students to finish an Hour of Code in the computer lab.

sce3Through taking part in fun coding activities and through hearing about the amazing things grown-up programers do, SCE students are now hooked on coding!

-Submitted by Laura Collier, SCE Media Specialist

Hour of Code…Hour of COOL!

We continue our week-long focus on the many ways that HSE schools and classrooms have implemented the Hour of Code! Thanks to Lori Silbert for today’s post.

lre1At Lantern Road Elementary, students prepared for coding before Hour of Code officially kicked-off. The site www.tinkersmith.org offered lesson plans to get us thinking about programming techniques. We thought about the “small pieces of the puzzle” that would lead to creating the “big picture.” Together we gave “human robots” commands to move forward, move backward, ‘pick up cup’ and ‘put down cup’ in order to build a pattern of paper cups on a table. Students took turns being the robots and writing the code using left, right, up and down arrows. Now students were ready to program on-line!

lre2All K-4 LRE students are participating in Hour of Code this week. They have written codes to help Anna and Elsa skate across the frozen ice by using commands like move forward and turn right 90 degrees! Using the site www.tynker.com/hour-of-code, they created creatures and programmed them to maneuver along paths to find peppermint drops and lollipops. A poor little puppy lost his family and the students wrote the code to help him find them again – forward, turn left, jump, turn right, forward!!! Often, students have needed to figure out a pattern and have their characters repeat actions. We even decorated the national holiday tree in Washington DC at www.holidays.madewithcode/project/lights#.

lre3Hour of Code has provided each LRE student with sixty minutes of engaged learning that will take them down new paths of their own!! Our 21st century students need core subjects; learning and innovation skills; information, media and technology skills; and life and career skills. This week we are blending all of these important areas in many cool activities!

-Submitted by Lori Silbert, LRE Media Specialist

Hour of Code Kick-off

This week, many HSE students are  participating in Hour of Code – a global movement to stress the importance of computer science in education. Through computer programming activities, students practice skills that involve problem-solving, creativity and logic – important skills for 21st century learners. Last year over 15,000,000 students participated in Hour of Code in 180+ countries around the globe. This year organizers are hoping that more than 20,000,000 will experience the fun! For more background,check out this clip:


HSE21 Shorts plans to devote the remainder of this week to posts highlighting Hour of Code around our district. Stay tuned! Whether you are 4 or 104, you’ll soon see that computer coding…well, it’s just plain FUN!

Thanks to LRE media specialist Lori Silbert for today’s post!