Sphero is a great tool for higher level coding. By combining it with Sphero’s Lightning Lab, students can start coding using ready to go tutorials, tasks given by teachers (you can set up a class and assign challenges) and more. I have found success with Sphero when working with upper level elementary and small group work. I like the Sphero, but I will admit that they move very quickly and I found that sometimes it can hard for the students to control them in the small space we use for them. Also, the Spheros can sometimes be tricky to pair which can be frustrating for the students. This being said, when I have used them in small groups with set goals and activities, the students have learned great coding skills, learn to be persistent and problem solve and absolutely love them. Here are the apps I use, hints to keep in mind and a few getting started activities I have found.
- Sphero: From the App store… “This is the central app for Sphero and a required app for all Sphero owners. Use it to get rolling with Sphero Original or 2.0, upgrade firmware and personalize your gameplay like never before. Level up your individual Sphero’s speed, colors, core reactor, and boost times. Complete missions, purchase tricks, and master your skills. The more you play with Sphero, the better he gets.”
- Lighting Lab: The Lightning Lab app allows students to learn programming and complete activities that they can discover through the lab or that are assigned to them by a teacher who controls a class via the lab. Students can also share their coding creations through the Lightning Lab community. Something new… a draw component gives younger students the ability to use Sphero more easily as they can draw where they want the Sphero to go and then send it on it’s way.
- I found Sphero connected more easily if I took the time to connect specific Sphero with specific iPads. By labeling both, students know that Sphero #1 will automatically show up in iPad #1’s Bluetooth settings.
- Sphero Lightning Lab has a Chromebook App that is great if your school has gone 1-1 with these devices. The Chrome App reminds me of Dash Blockly and Hour of Code block coding which is great for any students who can read.
- Keep in mind that these devices need about 3 hours of charging for 1 hour of play so you have to have a rotation system where some Sphero are charging at all times.
- Sphero moves super fast (Click Here to download a chart that has an estimation o how fast Sphero moves)! I found that these devices need quite a bit more room or a more focused task as compared to Dash because of their speed. In my library, a Sphero at top speed can go from front to back in about 10 seconds. I have mazes that my students can try and code or drive the Sphero through.
- In general, the Sphero needed more direct teaching than the other devices in my robots. I think this is because it requires a bit more instruction for connecting, the block coding is more complex and their is an orientation that has to occur since the Sphero is a circle. This being said, my older students LOVE the Sphero and we have had great success and fun with a before school Sphero Coding Club.