Thursday, January 12, 2017

Sphero Golf!

Swanson Straits logo modified from Whistling Straits Golf Course.
If you have not explored Sphero Balls, today is the day to check them out! Sphero is a robotic ball that pairs with your iPad or Smartphone. Using a variety of apps, you can manipulate the ball's movement through coding, programming, or a simple finger swipe. I love Spheros because they are easy to use and content integration is totally accessible by teachers at all levels. Spheros emphasize the power of play in our classroom, something we're always looking for more of in our world!

We brought the joy of Sphero into our classroom today with another engaging collaboration day with Mike Mohammad and his BCHS students. Y'all may be tired of hearing about our days together, but we are definitely not tired of having fun together! Because of the size of our group (50 students) we decided to divide up the time together into two rotations.

Being a golf lover myself, this morning is definitely ranking up there as one of my favorites of the year!  Mike's students came to "Swanson Straits" a little early to turn our Library Media Center into a 10 hole mini golf course. Our 5th graders were divided into teams and spent the morning playing all 10 holes of golf with the Sphero balls. Even a few grown ups enjoyed "teeing off" and giving it a try. It is waaaay harder than it looks. The Sphero Golf app is fun because it allows you to choose your club, determine the distance needed, and then tee off. The kids didn't tell me that when I started playing, so I was using my putter for most of my hole....urrrghhh! I made up for it in future holes, don't worry! 

In addition to the mini golf, our students also explored the Lightning Lab app. This app allowed our 5th graders to program the Sphero ball to navigate around a series of polygons taped onto the floor of our Makerspace. As the students approached each shape, they had to use the app to program the Sphero to trace the edges of each polygon. Students quickly realized they had to adjust their team's programming, through trial and error, in order to correctly navigate the polygon path. They had to create roll combinations, including the direction, speed, and the number of seconds they wanted it to move. They had to repeat this for each edge of the polygon. This rotation was much more challenging for our students, but they practiced their perseverance and grit to work through the different polygons. 

Although we only dabbled with a few of the Sphero Apps this morning, there are ton of options out there for students. I know there are many more out there, but these looked fun to me. Feel free to comment below with other apps you've used in your classroom!Below is a list of apps your students may find enjoyable: 
  • Sphero
  • Sphero Lab
  • Sphero Golf
  • Lightning Lab
  • Sphero Draw N' Drive
  • Sphero Exile

What an incredibly fun morning! We can not tell you how much we value our collaboration days together. A HUGE THANK YOU to Mike and his students! No matter how much we rant and rave, they'll never realize how much we value this time together. Not only do we laugh and play and have ridiculous amounts of fun, these days spark an interest and curiosity in the minds of our 5th graders. Collaboration days introduce our students to passions they may not even realize they have. The enthusiasm in our space this morning was infectious, and none of us wanted the morning to end! We can't wait to bring our Sphero balls back out in our upcoming Geometry unit.

Until next time...

~ Kate


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