“Sparking” Learning Through Sphero SPRK Lessons

LLC - Taryn Parise
School(s) - Longfellow Elementary
Grade(s) - 3rd - 5th grade


Goal / Objective - It impossible to predict the career paths our students will take as they move beyond District 200. The jobs they will hold have not even been dreamed of yet. What we do know is that these students need a strong foundation in science, technology, engineering and math. They need to be creative thinkers, and they need the ability to persist when a problem cannot easily be solved on the first try. The goal of “Sparking” learning is to introduce basic concepts of engineering and robotics using the Sphero SPRK edition robotic ball. This innovative little robot works via bluetooth and apps available for Android or Apple mobile devices. While the apps provide engaging activities, they also teach students the basics of coding fused with math skills like percentages, geometry, and patterns.

Through this project, students will take ownership of their learning. They will work collaboratively with other students in their class to puzzle out how to control and program the Sphero. They will be introduced to basic coding through Sphero’s visual programing app- MacroLab and be given challenges and time to work through them at their own pace.

Impact - Seven classes had the opportunity to work with the robots. Of those, 6 did numerous coding activities. They learned how to adjust variables, make the robots “draw” shapes on the floor, predict how speed and time would affect distance, and do some basic troubleshooting when technology did not work as planned. Throughout the month of May, all three of our 5th grade classes undertook an engineering challenge and designed chariots that could be powered by the Spheros. One of our third grade classes also worked on an engineering challenge. They created miniature golf course holes that reflected some aspect of their classroom learning. They were then able to use the Sphero golf app to “play” the holes.

I have seen a tremendous increase in enthusiasm when students come into the library and see that it is a Sphero day. Nearly 200 students had the opportunity to work with the Spheros this year. In addition to learning basic coding skills (changing variables to change results), I saw students working together to troubleshoot technology. Some students became very confident and independent in their ability to solve coding problems. They created programs with added complexity without even being asked to do so.

Article in Daily Herald.