A year ago, I attended my first WRDSB hosted sphero programming challenge. At this event, students worked in teams to program their sphero ball to travel on a predetermined “track” created with large sheets of chart paper taped down on a gymnasium floor. The focus was on a team approach to solving the path through coding. The excitement and collaboration levels were high as the students worked away at solving the puzzle. Have a look at the video to get a sense of the action.
Original sphero challenge
The next iteration of the WRDSB sphero challenge took a approach. Teams were provided a set of criteria to create a sphero track, which they would then solve using the collaborative approach as was done in the first challenge. I liked the concept behind this new approach combining creativity, differentiation and problem solving. Given the time constraints of running an after school event that involves teams from different schools, and therefore transportation etc. I thought this first attempt went well, although I did observe that some teams struggled with time management in the creation phase so there was less time available to solve the puzzle – good learning on the time management front, but some teams were not able to show their coding skills to the fullest. Check out the action captured in this short video.
Shero challenge 2
I certainly left each of these events on a positive note and pondered “what next”? In terms of track design, I wonder if a mid range approach might work – perhaps having a common start to a track and parameters to complete it to help with the time efficiency element. I applaud the efforts to create a coding challenge that requires collaboration to solve the problem. Over time, it would be great to see more students have this type of opportunity and also have students experience different roles within the team functions.
STEM sphero guide:
Coding with spheros with Scott McKenzie and Megan Lowe: (workshop summary)
Coding with spheros (full):