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Sphero: the coolest robot around

This week, the wonderful people at Orbotix sent me a Sphero to try out and play with. HOLY COW, I haven’t had so much fun with a new toy in a long time. The better part of today was spent learning about the Sphero and stealthily “driving” it into classrooms (much to the delight of kids). Sphero is a robotic ball that gets controlled by iPhone, iPad, or android device. I had it rolling all over school this morning…I only wish I had thought ahead to record student reactions (I was using my iPhone to control it and didn’t think about video and pictures). I had so much fun with it, that I brought it home to play and learn some more. It is equally loved by my dogs! 😉 Sphero seems like a simple concept, a ball that can be controlled via tablet or phone. Even though the concept is simple, I have to admit, I’m pretty floored by the way that this little ball moves around effortlessly as if by magic. We have a hallway in our school that includes an incline and it rolled up it without any trouble, like a champ! It is SO much more than a fun rolley ball. There are a slew of apps that interact with the Sphero making it ultra fun and educational. The majority of apps available are totally free to download. There are a few that cost $0.99. Apps include: Sphero Nyan Cat Space Party- Even if you have no idea what Nyan cat is, your students will. They will think it is awesome. Sphero Dark Nebula Episode One- A labyrinth game for the 21st century. Sphero Dark Nebula Episode Two- Defeat obstacles and enemies using your Sphero. Sphero- the app I played with all day. This app drives Sphero and teaches it (and you) new tricks with basics of coding. GoGo Mongo- Designed to teach toddlers and primary students healthy eating habits. Sphero Exile- Arcade-like space-fighter game. But with real life actions! Sphero Draw N’ Drive- Use your finger on the tablet or phone to draw a shape or path and watch Sphero follow it. Sphero MacroLab (great for education!)- Learn basics of programming by arranging simple commands and settings in any combination. Save favorite programs and share them with friends. Sphero TAG- A great tag game when you have access to more than one Sphero. Zombie Roller- A zombie app. Need I say more? Sphero Lights- Basically the coolest night-light ever. Keep the Sphero lit even when charging. Last Fish- Try surviving as a fish in toxic water filled with goo and shadow fish. The goal: survive. Sphero Macro Draw- Draw using your Sphero robot. DJ Sphero- Go ahead and be a party rock star with Sphero. Load tracks from your iPad/iPhone music library . Cross fade between songs and speed up or slow down music by spinning your sphere robot. Basically you will be the star of the lunch room. Astro Ball- An arcade-syle 3D flight simulator. Sphero Golf- I played this one as soon as I got home. Create a physical golf course and then virtually control Sphero to make it into the holes that you create. Hit Sphero with either a flick of the finger, or (for more fun) by swinging your arms while holding your tablet/phone. Sphero Cam- Currently Android only. Use the built-in camera on Android to record video with Sphero. orbBasic for Sphero- This is a great app for learning and practicing program. Students can execute basic programs and create and prototype autonomous behaviors for their Sphero robot. Sphero H2O- For real, this robot can be played with IN water!! This is a game for a summer pool party. Etch-o-matic- 21st century toy makes drawings like it is 1965. LOVE this app! Brings me right back to about 1987 when I sat in the back seat of the Jetta on the way to Grandmas. Just like an etch-a-sketch, only better. Sphero Snake- Classic Snake game brought to life. Disc Groove- Control your Sphero to avoid being hit by “flying meteors” Doodle Grub- A new twist on the classic Snake game. Lots of fun. Sphero Pet- Wishing you had a class pet? Sphero fits the bill well without being overwhelming. Kids can teach it to shake, flip and move in any direction. Pass the Sphero- A game of dare for multiple players where Sphero becomes a ticking time-bomb. Lots of fun when there is lots of snow and recess has to occur inside. Sphero Measuring Tape (AWESOME, measuring our Anastasis Academy garden!) Virtual measuring tape. Amazingly accurate. Our kids have been learning Area/Perimeter and using the Anastasis Academy garden as a learning space. Sphero helped verify their calculations. Sharky the Beaver- Sphero turns into an augmented reality beaver that you can interact with. Sphero ColorGrab- A multiplayer tabletop game. Sphero flashes colors and you have to pick him up at the right time to earn points. Best indoor recess ever! Sphero Chromo- Like an old-school Simon game for this little robot. Makes me a little nostalgic for my childhood. The Rolling Dead- an augmented reality game featuring zombies. Not sure how it gets better than using Sphero as a fireball to shoot virtual zombies. Anastasis Academy backs to a cemetery where the teachers walk/jog after school. I’m pretty sure the Rolling Dead/Sphero combo will be a welcome addition to our exercise. The Sphero apps the are available to download range from just plain fun, to serious learning capability and augmented reality. There are so many possibilities with this little robot and, it seems, that the apps and abilities of this little robot will only continue to grow. This robot is resilient. It can stand up to dogs, water, outdoors, hills, etc. Truly so magical and amazing! I dig technology that effortlessly blends real world with imagination and technology. Sphero definitely fits this bill in ways that I haven’t seen before. I’m excited to dig into Sphero Education to try out the STEM lessons that can be used with Sphero with students. I’ll be sure to blog our progress through them! Stay tuned.  

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Piki Kids Comic Creator

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Character Education, Fun & Games, History, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Websites | Posted on 06-10-2008

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What it is:  Piki Kids Comic Creator is an online comic creator for students.  Students can upload pictures from their computers, or search Flickr for images to use in their comic strip.  The comics are very flexible so students can make them uniquely their own.  Students can choose the number of panels, the look of the panels, color choices, and much more.  When students are finished creating their online Piki Kids comic, they can save them to a gallery, or print out.

 

How to integrate Piki Kids Comic Creator into the classroom:  Students love reading comics, there is something about the interaction with a comic that makes even struggling readers willing to try.  I find that the same is true with writing.  Many kids who struggle to write would dread writing out a story or series of events after reading a book.  But, introduce a comic and suddenly those kids who don’t like writing are writing full stories.  Piki Kids Comic Creator is the perfect way to get your students writing about anything.  Studying dinosaurs?  Have the kids find some clip art of dinosaurs that they can upload to Piki Kids and have them write about what they are learning comic book style.  Learning about the Civil War?  Have the students retell the story as a comic strip.  You will see creativity that you didn’t know your students possessed!  Comic strips are also an excellent place for students to “write” a book report after finishing a book.  Comics can be used in science to show processes (like plant cycle…give those plants a voice!)  Comics can be used in math for students to create word problems for fellow classmates to solve.  Use comics in character education, after teaching a lesson, students can illustrate, comic-style, what that might look like.  From the technology side of things, Piki Kids Comic Creator is a great place to teach kids skills like uploading to a website, searching flickr for pictures, changing font, size, and color.  

 

Tips:  Piki Kids Comic Creator is an excellent tool.  Be aware that there are adwords on the website.  I use these as an opportunity to help my student spot advertisements and talk about why sites include ads on websites.  Everything can be a learning experience!

 

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Piki Kids Comic Creator in your classroom.

Comments (2)

Hi there,

Comics are truly a great tool for educators. You seem to have captured various ways in which they can be used in the classroom!

You could also check out http://www.toondoo.com, an easy-to-use comic strip creator with loads of inbuilt characters. ToonDoo is currently being used by educators from all over the world.

Have fun teaching and learning with comics!
Meera

Hi! I just found your blog and after reading post after post, I’m amazed at all of the great resources you have shared! I too am a technology teacher and many of these I have not heard of. I am going to be teaching a technology enrichment class and I love the Piki Kids Comic Creator. I can’t wait to show it to my kids, they are going to have a blast!

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