The Sphero Programming Home Base enables pupils to program the Sphero robot accurately across a track. The Base helps the Sphero to have a fixed starting point at the beginning of the track and a steady direction. This makes it possible for the pupils to repeatedly test and further develop their program. A simple solution with a great impact.
With the aid of the SPRK Lightning Lab app of Sphero it is possible to program the track for the Sphero. This is a very attractive way of learning how to program. In order to let the robot roll to the end of the track successfully, the pupils have to test, evaluate and adapt their program several times. It is of great importance that each of the attempts the robot has the same starting position and is aimed in the same direction. The slightest difference in position or direction will have great consequences for the program from the first meters and curves on. With the Sphero Programming Home Base the pupils can put the robot in the exact same starting point and aim it right. The Sphero Programming Home Base can easily be taped or fixed on the start of the track.
To reduce printing time, restrict wall thickness to a maximum of 0.6 mm.
To design a Home Base was a real challenge. It had to give the Sphero enough support to let it rotate around its own axis when aiming it, but also had to be a platform the Sphero could easily roll off from. After having designed, printed and tested six prototypes, I finally succeeded in finding the right balance. I also had to look for a suitable and accurate way to calibrate the Sphero aiming light.
Developing a program by which the Sphero can roll across a track is a good and easy way to help pupils to learn how to program. The Sphero Programming Home Base enables them to develop and test complex programs in an accurate way.
Pupils are able to develop program the robot across a track. In this way they can be introduced to computational thinking, geometrical shapes and milliseconds, and so forth.
Suitable for pupils from 8 to 14 years old. By alternating the complexity of the track this activity can be challenging for several age ranges. Younger pupils in particular learn in a ‘trial and error’ kind of way. The Sphero Programming Home Base makes this kind of learning possible.
Math, Science, Robotics, IT
Standards (Dutch primary education)
- Teaches pupils to create a reusable algorithm
- Teaches pupils to evaluate multiple algorithms
- Teaches pupils to solve problems by formulating a specific set of instructions
- Helps pupils to detect and solve defects, also called ‘debugging’.
- Tell the pupils they are going to write a program that makes the Sphero follow the track and which skills they learn by doing this.
- Show them briefly what kind of codes they can use to do so. Keep it short to offer the pupils the possibility of discovering the process for themselves.
- Explain the pupils how to connect the tablet with their robot.
- Explain how the Sphero Home Base functions and why it is so helpful.
- Have the pupils work in pairs or triads. Two groups can work at a track at the same time when they use the track in opposite ways.
- When groups are finished with one track they can move on to the next.
- Let the pupils tell what difficulties they encountered and what went well. Have them think of ways to improve the process. Ask the pupils what they have learned from this.
- Develop cyclical tracks and let the pupils write a program with a loop by which the robot can keep rolling across the track.
- Let several groups write a program for the same track. Time both programs at the end of the lesson to see which program is the fastest way to let the robot race the track.
- Anonymize the developed programs and let the pupils without tablet or robot consider which program belongs to which track.
The total duration of the lesson is one hour and a half max, of which fifteen minutes is instruction, one hour is activity and fifteen minutes is evaluation. It is the battery duration of the Sphero Robot that makes an end to the lesson, not the involvement of the pupils! That is why the maximum duration for activity is one hour.
- Install the SPRK Lightning Lab app on all the tablets and make sure the Sphero robots are all fully loaded.
- Tape the track on the floor. Tape the Sphero Programming Home Base on the starting point of the track. Older pupils can also make and tape a track by themselves.
Rubric & Assessment:
At the end of the project the pupils will have written their own program. By using one SPRK-account the programs can be examined and compared on one tablet. Examine if the robot can reach the end of the track while staying in between the lines with the developed program. Also evaluate the collaboration of the pupils during the project.