The teaching of digital technologies ensures all learners have the ability to become digitally capable individuals at our school. Updated content in the NZ Curriculum around computational thinking and designing and developing digital outcomes provides “a greater focus on students building their skills so they can be innovative creators of digital solutions, moving beyond solely being users and consumers of digital technologies” (TKI, 2020).
One tool that allows us to do this is the Sphero. Sphero are self-described as “remarkably cool, programmable robots (providing) STEAM-based educational tools that transform the way kids learn, create and invent through coding, science, music, and the arts” (Sphero, 2020). This tool has fitted exceptionally well with our physics focus this term.
The learning intention was to identify and describe what causes movement. Students were asked to give instructions to the Sphero to roll from one spot to another along a straight line. They were given the following success criteria:
Consider the heading - your Sphero can move in any direction - 360०. You will need to set the direction.
Consider the speed. (Combined with a direction, this is known as velocity.) You will need to set the speed. The Sphero engine will provide the thrust needed to move.
Consider the duration. This will be the length of time (in seconds) the Sphero is moving.
Decompose the problem - we will use a block for this.
You will need to be constantly debugging by changing the number values.
Your Sphero needs to finish exactly on the finishing spot.
Engaging students with abstract vocabulary (as highlighted above) becomes easier with the Sphero. As students collaborate on a challenge, they are using critical thinking skills, problem-solving skills, and quickly utilise the vocabulary needed to get their message across to their peers. The Key Competencies of Using Language, Symbols and Texts and Participating and Contributing happen as a natural byproduct of the task.
You can watch some of the action here.
Tori: Oh no, it still goes off course.
Tautari: It’s gone way off course!
Mrs Graham: What should she do? Change the…?
Chelsea: We change it to straight, right? How many degrees is straight?
Tori: I don’t want it to hit the wall so I should change the speed and maybe duration.
Sphero. (2020). Inspiring the Creators of Tomorrow. Retrieved from www.sphero.com.TKI. (2020).
Digital Technologies and the national curriculum. Retrieved from https://elearning.tki.org.nz/Teaching/Curriculum-learning-areas/Digital-Technologies-in-the-curriculum
Keywords: Sphero, Physics
Curriculum links: L3 Science - Physical World, Digital Technology