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Coding with Sphero

'Hour of Code' was celebrated around the world the week of December 7 - 13, 2015.  Hopefully your school participated in this event.  We were out using the class set of Spheros, purchased through a 2014 grant from Honor Credit Union, to help bring coding to life.

Working primarily with fourth and fifth graders we had a set of ten Spheros we paired with a district set of ten iPads.  We made sure the SPRK app was installed and arranged the students into teams of three.  Before coming to the school I had created some mazes on cardboard that was approximately four feet by four feet square.  These mazes ranged from easy to more challenging.

First we provided a brief overview of the functions needed to code Sphero using the SPRK app.  Specifically we took time to really show the 'roll' action and how to set duration, speed, and direction.  Following this it was up to the students to solve the maze - or create a self-driving car - or dock the ship - or whatever other metaphor students developed that day!

The conversations students had was really the best part of the exercise.  The iterative process; repeatedly trying and failing seemed natural, there was no fear at creating mistakes, and there was very little dispute amongst the teams.  To ensure equitable access we provided a timer and the team members had to make sure everyone had 'touched' the iPad.

Coding can seem overwhelming and tough to implement in a meaningful way.  Utilizing Sphero, or other tools like Dot and Dash, or Bee Bots I think it is paramount kids get experience coding something 'to life.'  What I mean is rather than just creating on the screen, kids are getting a real life connection.  So even though the hour of code is over, we would be happy to bring the Spheros out to you and challenge your kids to manage the maze.

Connie Bacolor, St. Joseph media specialist, created a video synopsis of our experience!

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