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.

#HourOfCode #Encore!

HSE21 Shorts couldn’t resist sharing this student-produced Hour Of Code recap that came in today! Thanks to directors Logan, Justin, Ian, and Micah (of Sand Creek Intermediate School) for a helping us to understand the Hour of Code from a sixth-grader’s perspective. Enjoy!


Coding = Future = Fun

As we close on the 2014 Hour of Code week in HSE Schools, take a look at this two-minute wrap-up highlighting the impact of the experience in just one school! Thanks to fourth grade teacher Courtney Gibson for creating and sharing this recap. Click on any of the images below to be directed to the video.

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As part of our week-long focus on the Hour of Code, HSE21 Shorts decide to ask our youngest learners and their teachers to weigh in on the big event. Elementary teachers report that the resources suggested by code.org have been both educational and entertaining. Through fun activities/apps like Kodable and Daisy the Dinosaur, even students as young as kindergarteners have been exposed to the basics of coding. Here’s what a few of these youngest students had to say about their coding experiences:

image[1] “Mom, can I do this Kodable app for my (bedtime) story tonight? It makes me think just like I do when I am reading.”

“I did it myself!” 

“This learning is really fun!”

“Do we really have to stop?”

image“I like  challenge!”

“I made him dance a jig”

Yes! Yes! Yeesss! I did it!”

“I have a huge silver dragon!”

“This makes me think!”

“I can make this guy do this!  Look, I want to show you! (pause while he shows me) SEE?!”


Oh I just growed huge!  Daisy just grew huge! It was AWESOME!”


“This is so cool – it’s like playing!”

Third and fourth graders, also, seem to love taking part in the Hour of Code. From their comments below, it’s easy to see that these students are making connections–that in coding the movements of a game character, they are actually programming, and that programming is fun!

“I really liked how it challenged you and was still fun at the same time.  I would for sure do it in my free time.  It is cool that we have the capability from these apps to be able to program on our own.”

picstitch“Some kids don’t like school and don’t like to work, but with the Hour of Code, you can still learn and have fun!”

 “The Hour of Code was fun because you could make the characters do whatever you wanted.”

 “It was really fun because you got to see a lot of different funny things the characters can do.” 

 “It’s addicting because when you play a new game you like it a lot and then you don’t want to stop.”

 “It was fun because you can program a game to do what you want it to do.”

 “It’s so awesome because I kept on making Daisy big and small and make her break dance.”

 “I liked Scratch, Jr. because you can make your own person whatever color you want to.”

It was awesome because you never want to stop coding.  When I first starting playing Foos I just wanted to keep playing more levels.  When I got stuck I just asked a friend to help me.”

What insight–even fourth graders have recognized the potential impact of coding to engage students who don’t necessarily love school! At this rate, HSE21 Shorts wouldn’t be surprised if, in a few short years, computer programming classes in our high schools are full to overflowing!

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 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!