"Here it goes!" shouts sixth-grade student Makayla Avery as she lines up her small robotic ball to complete an obstacle course in the hallway at Battle Ground Middle School. The "Sphero" rolls down the track, but spins off to the right just missing the bridge. Makayla quickly retrieves the Sphero to make more coding adjustments.
Makayla and her classmates are gaining valuable experience in computer coding through the Spheros. Science teacher, Denice Froiland purchased 29 of the spherical robot toys thanks to grants from the Lafayette Breakfast Optimist Club, Battle Ground Middle School PTA and DonorsChoose.org.
"Students use block-based or text based programming to write code for spheros to sense touch, change color, make sounds, speak words, and run obstacle course challenges," says Froiland. "Through this project, students learned how to program loops and conditional statements."
"I learned a lot with this fun project," says Makayla. "I learned how to code the Sphero and how the robot reads it and puts it into action."
Classmate Miles Ditto says coding is fun. "If you drop it on the floor (not hard), you can program the Sphero to speak or do a specific maneuver."
Froiland says the students are truly enjoying working with this technology. "Students are using mathematics and physics concepts to program the robot with a Chromebook or phone," Froiland says. "They are also using their imagination, developing problem-solving skills, and fine tuning collaboration and communication experiences. Watching our sixth graders become deeply engaged in learning to code through a physics lesson motivates me to develop more lessons utilizing spheros. Soon, our Battle Ground seventh-grade science students will be creating contraptions demonstrating Newton's Laws of Motion using spheros."
For Makayla, she is excited about the possibilities. "Just move blocks together and you could create entertainment for hours!' Makayla says. "And if you have trouble, there are always videos that can help you get the hang of it. Code, and have fun with it."