Learning and Programing With @GoSphero

4/17/2014 12:00:00 AM
A few weeks ago the folks over at Orbotix sent me a Sphero to try out. I had seen them before so when given the chance to get hands on I couldn't resist.

What is a Sphero?



So as you can see it's a robotic ball that you control via Bluetooth from your smartphone or tablet.

But it's more than that too.

There are a slew of apps that you can download that allow you to take your Sphero to the next level.

Interested in Augmented Reality? The Rolling Dead app uses your Sphero to navigate through your world to destroy the onslaught of zombie hordes.

Are you an aspiring golfer? Sphero Golf follows a virtual course that you set up where ever you are. The Sphero is your ball. The trick is you have to program the strokes just right to get the Sphero in the hole.

But Sphero is more than just games. Where I see the benefit of this little ball is the programming.

There are several apps that allow you to get into the brain of Sphero to see how it works and how making slight adjustments, changes the way it behaves. Two of my favorites are MacroLab and orbBasic for Sphero. This app contains several basic, pre-loaded programs for you. This gives you a sense of how things work. Then you can enter each and begin making adjustments. Feeling confident? Try to start programing from scratch.

What I really enjoy is you can see your output immediately with your Sphero. There really is a sense of satisfaction, even if it doesn't do exactly what you thought it would.

As if Sphero didn't already belong in every classroom, they've just released Sphero for Education, an effort to get kids thinking about programming and doing it too. They've created some great lessons on things like rate and time, geometry and percentages and they have loads of examples of how others are using their Sphero's in their classrooms. They are real-world but the kids learn programing too. They also have a deal on getting a classroom pack of Sphero for your classroom.

The Sphero would make a great edition to any STEM or STEAM classroom!

cross posted at blog.web20classroom.org

Steven W. Anderson is the Director of Instructional Technology for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools in Winston-Salem, NC. He also regularly travels the country talking to schools and districts about the use of Social Media in the classroom. Steven has been recognized with the NOW Award and the 2009 and 2011 Edublogs, Twitterer of The Year Award. In 2012 he was named an ASCD Emerging Leader. Read more at blog.web20classroom.org.
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