Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Next Level of Sphero, Ollie and other Robotic Devices

So, my library makerspace has been in existance for one year now. Even though last year at this time it was all in my head. Once the planning team figured out where to put the space in the library, we had to figure out what to put in it. I consulted with Andy Plemmons, librarian extraordinaire, he Skyped with our planning team. I asked him, "What's the most user friendly thing you have in your makerspace?" Sphero was his answer. I ordered one Sphero for my library's makerspace. The students absolutely loved it. There was always a wait for students to drive this robot. Students changed the light colors, and tried to get this robot to jump off the ramps that came in the box.  I let the students discover and tinker how this new addition to our library was used. But, at the end of the year I felt like this most popular gadget needed to offer something more to enlighten and inspire my students during makerspace time.
Image result for sphero
After attending a recent workshop on library makerspaces, I learned about the educational Tickle App. This app is going to take Sphero and the four Ollies I recieved a grant for to a new level.
Image result for ollie toy
Tickle lets students code the colors and movements of Sphero and Ollie using "kid friendly" blockly. Created projects can be saved. It offers two demo games to let users familiarize themselves with the program. There is an online course that offers four tutorials, demo videos and coding tips. This user friendly app only works with i-phones and i-pod touch 5 and 6.

The SPRK App does all of the same stuff as Tickle, but it can convert the "kid friendly" blockly to text code, so students can see the code they wrote in its truest form. The SPRK App works on i-phone, androids and i-pod touch 5 and 6.

Coding will continue to be a part of our makerspace, but this year I want to merge robotic devices with coding. It will truly merge playing and learning.

Here is a few more coding sites for students.

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