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.