I’ve been looking into possible STEM and STEAM programs recently, and I’d really like to lead some introductory coding programs for teens and tweens. There are plenty of free places to start, such as Scratch, Code.org, Code Academy, and Khan Academy. If you’re unfamiliar with these platforms, and are thinking about hosting a coding program, I recommend checking them out on your own. I had a lot of fun making Angry Birds blow up pigs in a Code.org hour of code and making cats dance with Scratch. All you’d need to use any of these for a program is a computer for every student.
However, I’d really like to bring robotics into a coding program, which brings me to Sphero. If you’re unfamiliar with Sphero, check out this video. There are several free apps for Sphero — the one I have my eye on is the Tickle app, which lets you write code for Sphero using blocks similar to Scratch. One of the things I like most about Sphero is that it can be used in programs for any age — younger kids can drive the robot without needing to write any code, kids can team up with peers or parents and learn to code together, teens can program the robot to navigate obstacle courses (and race to see who figures it out the fastest). I have so many things I’d love to try with Sphero, like a Maze Runner movie tie-in program, a challenge to create the most difficult obstacle course (and the code to navigate it), or a family game night with robot races. Seeing their code come to life in 3D, and not just on a screen, will be more engaging and encouraging for young coders.
And who doesn’t want a library robot?
I don’t have any first-hand experience with Sphero, but I hope to change that soon. Have any of you used Sphero before? What did you think of it? What other tech would you recommend for coding/robotics programs?