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.