Our Unit: What students did…
Code the Spheros to navigate successfully through a course designed to represent possible terrain found on an unknown planet. Students needed to consider the friction of different surfaces, force and acceleration to guide the Spheros through the course.
- STEM: using the engineering design process in the context of coding
- Science: physical sciences, forces
- Digital Technology: using a sequence of steps (algorithms) to create solutions.
- Maths: measurement and angles
- Literacy: procedure writing for how to code the sphero or exposition/persuasive writing (eg. Are technologies like Siri smarter than people?)
Stimulus- New Solar System
Alternative Space Stimulus
- 20 mysterious radio bursts
- Scientists have landed a new spacecraft on Mars
Learning to code the Sphero: best place to start
This tutorial gives students the skills they need to code the Sphero through teaching students to make a square. I go through the tutorial step-by-step with students, displaying the tutorial on the interactive whiteboard.
Challenge: Once students know how to draw a square with the Sphero, can they work out how to alter the code, to create a rectangle? Can they make efficient changes to the code to create other quadrilaterals?
Activities to practise coding
- Draw a path with chalk. Students code the sphero to follow the path.
- Arrange obstacles such as cones, and students code the sphero to make it through the obstacles
- Code the sphero to draw a number, letter or shape
- Place a hula hoop about 3 metres from the starting point of the sphero. Students code the sphero to go in the hoop.
- Have a starting and finishing line. Students aim to get the sphero to STOP on the finishing line.
Lending Library- teachers can borrow sets of Spheros
Other coding websites
Click here for more coding resources, including a step-by-step guide.
- Friction: http://www.abc.net.au/science/video/2013/08/06/3811724.htm
- Primary Connections Resources: available free via Scootle for teachers in Australia
- NASA lesson plans and ideas
- How to develop scientific inquiry skills… resources, ideas and examples.
Video introduction to coding
Science Content: Solar System
Real World Connections
Discovery of a new solar system
Scientists have landed a new spacecraft on Mars
Dr Katie Bouman: computer scientist whose algorithm made the historic image of a black hole possible. She was among a team of 200 researchers who contributed to the breakthrough. Credit and full articles: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/apr/11/katie-bouman-black-hole-photo ; https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2019-04-11/black-hole-event-horizon-telescope-five-things-you-might-miss/10993112
Introduction to the solar system
How the solar system began…
Video and NASA poster reference: https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/solar-system-formation/en/
Technology in Space
Interactive website where students can explore technologies invented for space that we use in our everyday lives. https://homeandcity.nasa.gov/
Primary Connections- Earth and Space Science Units
These resources are available for free, for teachers in Australian schools via the Scootle website. Click the links below, to be directed to the resource on the Scootle website. Login via your education network, eg. South Australian Department for Education and Child Development.
If you are not a teacher in an Australian school, the resources can be purchased from this website: https://primaryconnections.org.au/curriculum-resources .