Sphero + Ollie = Robotics Fun
Ollie and Sphero are whimsical, yet robust robots. Both robots, made by Sphero, offer many similarities as well as significant differences. Educational opportunities abound. Sphero, the company’s first robot, is a ball that rolls along the ground and is waterproof. Ollie is cylindrical, with two wheels on either side. Ollie robot moves by turning both wheels and rolling along the ground. Ollie is known for speed and agility and can go up to fourteen miles per hour. Perhaps the most fun, Ollie can also perform flips and spins. Each can be controlled using a Bluetooth enabled device and “driven” on varying terrains. Each robot has an amazing suite of fun apps that utilize augmented reality and entertaining games. In an educational environment, subject matter such as sight words, colors, vocabulary words, and math facts can be placed on the floor. Then, teachers can give students definitions, words, or numbers and students use a device to roll the robots to the specific word or number. This is a fun, simple way to review material. Artistic projects can also be created by dipping Sphero’s waterproof casing into the paint and then driving it across paper creating interesting designs.
Additionally, young programmers are able to program both robots using the Sprk Lightning Lab app. Students can become proficient with the drag and drop programming language, thereby introducing them to basic programming concepts. Users can even choose to view the actual code exposing children to more complex coding structures.
In an effort to take education to the next level, Sphero has expanded Lightning Lab. Now, teachers can create an account for themselves and their students. Through this account, teachers can send assignments to students digitally. However, my favorite part is the library of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) lessons introducing concepts such as friction, drag, measurement, geometry, and literary concepts for students ranging from first grade to high school. Lessons are created by Sphero and its community of educators. There is no shortage of engaging lessons and the library continues to grow every day. In order to get the most out of these lessons, the Sphero is the tool of choice. All the lessons I saw in the library centered around the robotic ball-of-fun.
Many tools in the educational market fit a particular niche--Grades K-2, Grades 3-5, middle school, or high school. Rarely do educators find technology that spans the wide-range of learners. It is clear that Sphero wants educators around the world to know about their versatile product. Sphero and Ollie are here to stay. Teachers and schools everywhere should get in on the action early.
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