Friday, June 16, 2017

A Little Bit of Cross Campus Collaboration

Over the last few weeks, I have been privileged to have the opportunity to do some collaborative learning with our local Secondary School - Ormiston Senior College (OSC). One of the teachers there, Mr Chandar K, has been using the Sphero robot in his teaching and had heard that we were using them as well in the primary school. He contacted us and offered to take a small group of our learners and do some activities with them, to teach them how to code the Sphero Robots.

I've had a couple of Spheros (and two Ollies) and have been letting our learners use these all year, but I wanted to learn how I could use these a bit more. We were a bit limited by our small numbers, so the opportunity to use 8-10 of them in another setting was very enticing. We asked the 90 learners in our habitat which were interested and got 18 who were keen to make the once weekly trek through the Junior College to go learn about how to code a robot.

For the past month or so, we've been learning and developing our coding capabilities and I've been getting lots of ideas as to how you can manage a robotics curriculum in a school.

On the teaching side of things, Mr Chandar K started by letting the learners free drive with the sphero. This was the last time he let them do this. We had a couple of races to get them used to how the sphero moves and what it is capable of doing.

From there we did some simple coding - making the Sphero roll for a short amount of time, at a specific speed in a specific direction.

That was the end of week one. When we came back the next week, we tried another challenge: to make the robots go in a square (and then back again). This proved difficult for some learners as they had to change the directions (so we learned a bit about angles), and adjust the speed or time so that the sphero would go the correct distance. Some were able to complete the task AND make the robot retrace its steps.

The third session involved our learners trying to program the sphero around three objects inside a square - so essentially they had to program a triangle. This was also difficult, but many managed to do it.

Our most recent session involved the learners coding the sphero to go in an L Shape on the carpet. We had some difficulties today and discussed concepts like friction (the carpet was pretty bumpy itself, but the little markers used for the shape were slowing the sphero down a bit and knocking it off course) and fractions, ratios & proportions (when trying to adjust the distance the sphero would go). As a learning coach, I am starting to see a lot of the mathematical applications with using a sphero.

As you can also find out in the video, we learned about putting a delay between roll blocks so that the sphero goes in straight lines, instead of curved.

So why was this helpful? Well, just on the surface this was great for my learners because they got to experience these robots and learn in ways that we cannot yet provide (with only my two personal sphero at our school) and I was given a great starting point for what I can do with them and lots of ideas as to where we can take this.  But there are deeper implications from this experience. At Ormiston (and I mean the three schools combined) we have a great opportunity for some great collaboration between all people (leadership, learning coaches and learners) and this was a great example of what could be done. I know Mr Chandar K is also working with the Junior College. This will hopefully provide future opportunities for the adults at the three schools to sit down and figure out what we want to teach when it comes to robotics and to start to share knowledge and resources.

As for next steps in the coding, I'd like to start introducing some looping functions and then eventually if statements. There is a lot that can be explored in this coding and the doors are starting to get a bit wider for me.

If anyone out there has any other innovative ways to use these robots, please share in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. This was a great read Michael as exploring the robots and coding is something I would really like to be able to do with the learners in LH4 as well. It'd be great to consider doing something cross-habitat as well with some of your learners teaching some coding skills to the younger learners - especially apps like Lightbot or Scratch Jr where one on one support would be super helpful for some of the younger ones. Something we could consider for an iExplore or iExperience in Term 3?
    I love how your learners were able to problem solve with the robots!