Tag Archives: sphero

Evolving the Sphero Challenge

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.

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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.

Related Resources:
STEM sphero guide:
http://stemeducationguide.com/classroom-activities-sphero/

Coding with spheros with  Scott McKenzie  and  Megan Lowe: (workshop summary)

Coding with spheros (full):

~Mark

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Coding with Spheros

Tuesday night I had an opportunity to support WRDSB teachers Scott McKenzie and Megan Lowe at their Coding with Spheros workshop. I appreciate their willingness to share their learning and workshop materials openly through a live streaming broadcast and video recording. The workshop provided a solid instructional framework for curriculum context, activities, problem solving and collaboration.

This version of the video is the presentation portion of the workshop (35 minutes). Markers have been placed in the video to highlight the sub topics.

Presentation slide deck .

This version of the video includes the informal discussions of the “hands on” activities. Markers have been placed in the video for easy scrub through.

Connect on twitter with Scott and Megan

~Mark
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Maker ?s

I recently had a chance to visit a couple of schools in a nearby school board to check out their new MakerSpace learning areas.  Is was definitely a worthwhile day of conversation, questions and observations.

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One school was brand new (Sept. 2015) and had a built in MakerSpace space room roughly 20′ x 24′ with two green rooms available off one side.  The room was well equipped via the start up funds with a variety options for students to make and explore.  The students using the room were very engaged and functioned well within the space. Staff were extremely positive about the availability of this type of learning space within their school.

The second site had a similar sized MakerSpace room created as part of a school renovation.  Equipping of this room was up to the school. Staff noted that acquiring items for the room would be done over time as funds were available.

In both schools the MakerSpace rooms were connected to the library which is considered more as a learning commons.

In reflecting on the day, I am left pondering a few a few aspects of the MakerSpace movement.

  • Is MakerSpace a place? or a strategy to embed in the learning journey?
  • If MakerSpace is a place, how do students respond to “scheduled access” vs as available or as needed?
  • Is it possible the MakerSpace room might become outdated or disrupted by a future change?  To give some context, I am thinking about how computer labs were disrupted by mobile technology – the place vs embedded as part of learning space.
  • How would differing school cultures handle making ‘only in the space’ vs taking the ‘goods’ and  making elsewhere?
  • MakerSpace vs MakerCulture
  • Make, Mix, Remix

I would be interested in learning your opinions about MakerSpace and invite you to contribute a comment here or perhaps connect with me on Twitter to exchange ideas.

Gallery of the Day

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Related Resources:  Follow #makerspace  on Twitter.

~Mark
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Learning with Spheros

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I intended to share this blog post much sooner than today, but life has been a little crazy.

 

On a recent (March)  visit to Ryerson P.S. I had an opportunity to visit the grade 1 classroom of teacher Jenni van Rees.  The excitement in the room was obvious as it was coding day!  Learning goals for the session were clearly laid out and reviewed with the students.

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Students were clearly comfortable using both iPads and Chromebooks as they worked in groups of 2 or 3 for collaborative learning and problem solving.

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The students really did work collaboratively, and it was great to see their joy in planning, testing, reviewing results and determining next steps.

Fast foward to April where I had an opportunity to attend a Sphero Challenge event organized by teachers Scott Dickie and Chad Lloyd from Westmount P. S. 

I arrived early to see the first of 4 sphero tracks being marked out in the gym. The remaining tracks were laid down as teams from a variety of schools began to arrive.

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As was evidenced in Jenni’s  classroom, the energy and excitement was in abundance.  Teams were eager to embrace the challenge: planning, measuring, calculating, comparing, testing, observing, collaborating, communicating, iterating … “all in” problem solving for sure. 

I hope this highlights video give you a good sense of the  Sphero Challenge event.

I am already looking forward to the next one!

~Mark
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