Epic Sphero Battle

When I applied for the Google Innovator Academy in Toronto, I envisioned a library where students created, made, and produced instead of just consumed information and ideas. This vision was going to take a cultural shift in seeing the library as more than a place to skip class and chill. My original naive Field of Dreams mentality was quickly proven false. I built it, but they did not come. Things began to turn a corner when I found a teacher willing to walk on the wild side with me.

We have a new AP Physics teacher this year who has embraced coding with Sphero SPRK and has included these devices into several labs this year. Today ends week one of a two week project-based learning unit that will culminate in an Epic Sphero Battle.

Students worked in groups to accomplished in tasks: 1) code the Sphero SPRK to navigate an obstacle course and 2) make a weapon that uses marshmallow projectiles that will be required to hit static and moving targets. These two tasks will be tested when each team runs their robot through the obstacle course while the other team unleash their weapons to pummel the Sphero with marshmallows. It is bound to be a blast!

In talking with the teacher and facilitating the learning process in the library, several reflections have

1. Students are more engaged than during traditional classwork. They have not been told to get on task or off their phones. And students have been showing up throughout the day to work on their projects when they get done with work in other classes.

2. Students have made things we never expected. As far as weapons go, students have been so creative. We expected some traditional catapults that were manually operated. We got those, but also bows/arrows and trigger operated weapons. This outside of the box thinking was exciting to see.

3. Students invested in the process. The first group to successfully write code to navigate the course had to test it several times. When the sphero wasn't in the exact correct spot, it did not make the course correctly. I got a video of one of the tests that went askew. You can hear the students encouraging the robot to take the right path. When it stops short they are audibly upset. Their reactions have been so great!

Tomorrow is the battle. Videos will be posted. Check back for updates


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