Skateboard Park Challenge with Sphero

Q: How do you create a lesson on coding when you only have one Sphero to be used in a classroom of 20 kindergarten and grade 1 students?

A: Put students in small groups, and use whatever materials in the MakerSpace and challenge them to build a skateboard park and as children are busy building, go around each group, giving them turns to use the Sphero to test out their designs.  Each group can have an iPad and use SPRK Lightning Lab app by Orbotix. IncScreen Shot 2016-04-22 at 9.48.04 PM

We began the lesson by finding out what students already knew about skateboarding and skateboarding parks.
It turns out, one of our Educational Assistant knew a lot about skateboarding thanks to her 2 sons.  We wrote down some key terms used in skateboarding such as ‘ollie’, ‘kick flip’, ‘half pipe’, ‘grind’ and more. Definitions of these terms can be found in Exploratorium.

Students worked in small groups to build the skateboard park that Sheldon (yes, we named our Sphero) might enjoy.  Students can be building, using an iPad to build the codes, and as the teacher moves from one group to another, they can use the bluetooth setting to connect with Sheldon and test out their codes and the skateboard park.  This was done at a very fast pace, as my classes are 34minutes long.  But this was our first time, so when we do it again next week, the children will have a better understanding of the types of materials that were useful, and what they need to do better so that Sheldon finds their skateboard park exciting and user friendly.

It is important to give children time to evaluate their designs and product so that they can make changes and make it better. This evaluative and reflective practice is what we want our students to be able to do in everything they encounter as learners.

Here we have 2 videos that show how children can evaluate their own design and make necessary changes.  They realize that their ramp is too narrow for Sheldon to go up and if they make the ramp wider, the chances of Sheldon being able to make it up the ramp increases.  This group will need to continue making more changes, but they have taken the first step and I have no doubt that next week, they will discover more things they need to change about their skateboard park so that Sheldon can actually go on it.

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