Absolutely thrilling! That describes the Ozobot bit by Evollve Inc, the little robot with a lot of attitude. Don’t be fooled by its size… It is one powerful teaching tool packed full of opportunities. On opening and tinkering with it a bit, you begin to wonder; Why is this little bundle of educational joy not in the hands of every child? There are so many skills to be learned from using the Ozobot bit – it’s not only about programming or learning to code. This adorable little robot can also be used to learn how to use a writing utensil and target with precision, enhance visual motor skills, and teach kids the love of learning something new that will last them a lifetime during the process of open play. I have found that playing with Ozobot draws kids in like bears to a honey pot. Meant for ages 8 and up, this device can be adapted to kids as young as 4, given supervision and structure. Older children will benefit from learning how to propose, execute a plan, and learn the applications and use for programming. Choose to play with 1 of two apps on an android or iOS device, or play off screen simply with paper and markers. A wealth of information and structured lessons are on Ozobot’s website found here. Evollve, teachers, and fans are constantly updating the site with new ideas, games, and challenges for home and classroom use. The lessons are well worth printing out, and have ties to common core standards, practical life skills, and are laid out in hour chunks making the activities perfect for an afterschool club or special. Ozoblockly, powered by Google’s Blocky, is a system for the Ozobot bit that drag and drop programmable bits to control the Ozobot’s movement and behavior. There are five modes to explore from novice to expert. Check out the site, here to learn more.
On opening, there is plenty of information to get you started. Be careful removing the Ozobot from its stand and handle it with care. Included with the Ozobot itself are instructions, sample brainteasers, and playing cards as well as a case, charger and a little headpiece. As an OT, I can’t help but to think it would be fun to stylize each Ozobot bit to give her/him a little more of a personal edge. I know its probably been done, but making a R2D2 or making a host of animals would be a loads of fun. Let’s look first at the things you can do with the Ozobot and then explore Ozoblockly in a bit. The basic language of the Ozobot is based on color. See the little sensors on the bottom? Those pick up the light frequencies from colors – black, blue, green and red. The Ozobot will respond accordingly to the sequence of coded color messages. After charging, it is important to calibrate the Ozobot to the surface being used. White on a screen is very different than the white of paper, and calibration is necessary to help set the sensors correctly. The first lessons help you get started. I’ll admit at being intimidated at first (truth be told, I was scared) and then was immediately put at ease with the first lesson, which was simply to draw a line. Looking to the left and the right, I drew it, and then turned on the Ozobot. It traveled down the line like a trooper! Kids don’t have that fear like adults do; they dive right in, learn from what works and what doesn’t, and then want to know more. Codes for movements, speed, etc. are 2-3 sets of color squares that the Ozobot crosses over. “The Tornado, Line Jumps, and the Spin” are really fun moves. Pairing kids and then giving the pairs both a starting and ending point on paper to play with so that all kids could string their coded sheets together would be a memorable lesson indeed. Set it all to music and what a way to make the lessons stick by coordinating mind and body through the senses. Here is a sample from the website from one creative individual that had kids programming the Ozobot traveling to the presidents in order. How cool is that?
Ozoblockly allows for kids to drag and drop bits of codes on a timeline and start coding on a computer or tablet opened to the Ozoblockly website. It is for the Ozobot bit (2.0 in the
Ozobot series), and is straightforward and easy to use. Loading the Ozobot bit to carry out the program is a snap. Just touch the bottom to the computer screen and it is loaded through the light sensors. Pretty impressive, huh? Ozoblockly also has games, challenges and lessons. Shape tracer is a game where kids learn to program moves from a model. It takes the lessons learned, and directly applies them to a real life experience. Right now there are 2 games, with the promise of more on the way.
On devices, one can download the original Ozobot app and Ozobot Groove. In the Ozobot app, which can be used with either the Ozobot 1.0 or the Ozobot bit, the following features are included.
- About has tutorials on calibration, links to youtube, and FAQs
- Tune up helps you calibrate for on screen play, tune your motors, setting mood, speed, and timer.
- Game Zone lists the connection to the website for games, tracks and mazes
- Ozoluck is a game of chance, where you choose the number of outcomes or players and ask a question. At home, we asked, “Whose turn is it for receiving the royal treatment today?” Well the dog won, as he should.
- Ozodraw contains three sections. Each section can be saved or edited at a future time.
- Freedraw – where kids can create tracks and mazes, add and edit codes.
- Playground – for those wanting a little more structure playground allows for picking a successful map layout, kids can try out new codes and/or add more.
- Challenge – tests one’s ability to program Ozobot from one point to another on a given map. It’s a little different than Playground in that there is a goal to accomplish.
- OzoPath is a strategy game where one places tiles on the board to create a path for the Ozobot to reach a designated finish line. It can be played alone or with a partner. Pairing up kids would give a chance for collaboration and learn valuable social skills in listening to a partner, sharing ideas cohesively so other can understand your plan of action, and mutually agreeing on a course.
- Ozo cha cha, Ozo country, and Ozo step it up demos
- Dance Editor helps you learn how to program dance steps and demonstrates how to shake shimmy and spin.
- The Pro Version – Move Creator and Dance Editor refine skills. Once a dance has commenced, save for later editing or finish and upload to share with the community.
I wish to fully disclose that I did receive the Ozobot bit for review, and I have to admit my bias as an Occupational Therapist. I have an infatuation – no, a love for all toys and their inherent possibilities for learning. Ozobot bit however, is not just a toy. It is a powerful tool that can span a multitude of functional outcomes and is directly applicable for achieving goals across curricula or other therapeutic uses. Learning to code is no longer something to do or an occupation. It is proving to be an essential skill for day-to-day living. Kids need to know how to sequence and prioritize. And with that, I would Highly Highly Recommend the Ozobot bit, and would love to see it used in classrooms, homes, and centers such as libraries, scout troops, or other places where kids or families gather.