Primary Computing with Sphero SPRK+

Coding with Sphero SPRK+ and Sphero Edu

 

This post follows on from a previous post detailing my experiences of teaching primary computing, coding with Sphero 2.0.  Following the successful loan of Sphero 2.0 from Lancaster University as part of my role as a Computing at Schools Primary Computer Science Master Teacher, my school bought a class set of Sphero SPRK+ to support teaching primary computing and use elsewhere across the curriculum.

The Sphero SPRK+ Edition is aimed at the education sector and includes the same sensors and electronics as Sphero 2.0 but, unlike the white shell, the clear polycarbonate material brings pupils closer to the robotic action. Children can immediately see the connection between the programs they create and how the insides of Sphero work and react.  Powered by Sphero Edu app, pupils can learn programming using drag-and-drop blocks and progress to coding using JavaScript.  I really like how making connections between the visual programming language (the blocks) and its text equivalent is literally at pupils finger tips: with just a tap, they can see how the block of code they are using is written in JavaScript code.  That’s great for progression in computer science.

Sphero Edu

Tap to see blocks written in JavaScript

 

 

Sphero SPRK+ is certainly more stable than Sphero 2.0.  Because they are equipped with Bluetooth SMART technology they are much easier to connect to devices and, thankfully, don’t require any of pairing and labelling that I needed to do with Sphero 2.0 for classroom management. Here, connections are made between your device and the robot simply by tapping them together.  That said, do check your devices are compatible with SPRK+ as they need Bluetooth 4.0 LE to work.  I found out only seven of our iPads at school work with my new set.  Luckily, we only have six Sphero but it could have been a very costly mistake!

Sphero SPRK+ has lights, sound and voice.  I made links to the work we had been doing in cryptography (iCompute, Year 5, iCrypto) studying Morse Code by using Sphero’s strobe blocks to flash lights representing the dits and dahs of letters in secret messages (changing colours between letters to make decoding easier).  For the solutions, the children then added speak blocks after each sequence of Morse code, which said verbally what the letters were.

Another great feature of the Sphero Edu app is being able to easily see (and export to other apps) Sphero’s live sensory data.  This is brilliant for cross curricular work, particularly maths and science.  Sphero is packed with sensors — gyroscope, accelerometer, location, etc… Pupils can see the real time value of sensors within Sphero Edu with visual graphs.  If you throw Sphero like a ball, pupils will see the accelerometer data rise and fall. Similarly, when they construct a maze, they can use the data to track location, distance, and speed.

Sphero Protractor

Click to download

Last, but not least, Sphero Edu with Sphero SPRK+ includes a Program Cam feature which allows pupils to take a videos or images of programs while they’re running. Pupils can narrate what they’re created, demonstrate their learning (and ultimately mastery) and share their work with a wider audience.

Pupils naturally love working with Sphero, they think they’re playing. Under the guise of play, they’re actually learning invaluable programming skills alongside learning about everything from physics to art!  That’s learning at its best.  The SPRK+ edition, combined with the Sphero Edu app, brings so much more to the table to support teaching and learning – particularly in STEM subjects.  They’re expensive but with the right blend planning and imaginative resources, using Sphero SPRK+ in your school can extend to all areas of the curriculum.

Ready to roll?  The possibilities are exciting!

Our school purchased six Sphero SPRK+ at full price.  I have produced lesson plans and resources for iCompute that use Sphero 2.0 and Sphero SPRK+ but am in no way affiliated with Sphero Inc.

 

sphero cover

Visit iCompute to find out more about primary robotics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easter Computing – Programming an Egg Hunt

Program the Easter Bunny with Scratch

Not long until Easter and I’m sure you’ll have lots planned for it in other subjects, but don’t forget about Computing.  It’s a great end-of-term opportunity for your pupils to demonstrate what they can do with Scratch programming.

Easter Egg Hunt

Click to download the plan and resources

I’ve prepared a step-by-step lesson plan and some teacher/pupil computing resources that I’m using and have added to iCompute to celebrate Easter and/or Spring.  Feel free to download and use in your own classroom.

It’s Easter and the Easter Bunny has forgotten where she has hidden all of her eggs.  Challenge your pupils to create algorithms and program the bunny to get all of her eggs in her basket any way they know.

Easter Scratch Program

Easter Egg Hunt Support Card

Pupil Support Card

As usual, lots of opportunities for differentiation.  For instance, less able pupils could use pupil support cards (see Egg Hunt card which is included in the pack) and/or write a more simple collecting less eggs.  Your more able pupils could:

  • program the ice-cream truck sprite to move across the x-axis
  • program the hot-air balloon to fly
  • add the Easter eggs to a list variable when collected
  • add ‘enemies’ to thwart the Easter Bunny in her quest
  • add extra, increasingly difficult, levels (e.g. mazes to navigate)

Ideas for differentiation, extension and enrichment are included in the lesson plan.  Lots of opportunities to be inspired and get creative.

Check out my free Key Stage 1 activity: programming the Easter Bunny to collect Eggs – a twist on the BeeBot app.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Easter Computing Activity

For Key Stage 1

Everyone likes putting a seasonal twist on lessons during the approach to Easter and I’ve been making Easter computing lessons for my pupils to add to iCompute‘s computing scheme of work

This time, I’ve put together a step-by-step computing lesson plan and teacher resources for Key Stage 1 pupils.  You can download the free Easter computing lesson and resources and use them your own classrooms for a little seasonal fun!

A spin on the Bee Bot app, this uses Scratch 2.0 and ‘BunnyBot’.  The children create algorithms and program the Easter Bunny to collect Eggs.

Easter Computing Lesson

BunnyBot

Easter computing lesson plan

Click to download lesson & resources

The lesson plan contains lots of ideas for differentiation, extension and enrichment

  • predicting algorithms
  • identifying and using repetition in programs
  • programming against the clock
  • comparing and improving algorithms and programs
  • designing own game

Check out my other Easter computing resources for Key Stage 2 pupils.

Save

Primary Computing – Cryptography Lesson Plans

Encryption & Decryption

Cryptography Enigma Machine

Click to Download

Cryptography

Since man first began writing there has been a desire to send messages in secret: in code.  Codes and ciphers are forms of secret communication. A code replaces words with letters, numbers or symbols.  A cipher rearranges letters or uses substitutes to disguise the message. This process is called encryption. The art of writing and solving codes and ciphers is called cryptography.

Codes and ciphers have been used throughout time when people wanted to keep messages private.  Cryptography has, and is still, used by governments, military, companies, and organisations to protect information and messages.

Today, encryption is used to protect data and data transfer between computers.  Documents, data and messages are encrypted to protect confidentiality.  Modern encryption methods are very clever but their underlying principles remain that of those ancient methods.

Cryptography Unit

I have written a 6 week unit introducing cryptography for iCompute for Primary Schools computing scheme of work.  Here, the children will unleash their inner spy and learn about how data can be transferred in secret over distances. They will learn how codes and ciphers have been used throughout history and explore a number of different ways that data can be encrypted and decrypted.

cryptography-enigma-lesson

As part of it, along with step-by-step lesson plans and pupil/teacher support materials, I’ve been putting together resources on the history of cryptography.  Download a brief introduction to the Enigma machine and how the magnificent men and women at Bletchley helped shorten World War II with their code breaking skills!  Practise secret code writing in your classroom by downloading and making a cipher disk.  Lots of engaging activities to learn about encryption methods past and present and the importance of keeping data private in the modern digital age.

cryptography cipher wheel

Click to download

The new cryptography unit – iCrypto – is available now in our Whole School Computing Curriculum for the National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 2.

Visit www.icompute-uk.com to find out more about our acclaimed primary computing scheme of work.

Cross Curricular Computing Lesson Plans

Enrich learning with a cross curricular approach to primary computing

CT Poster

Click to download the poster

Computing is one of the most fundamentally cross curricular subject areas in education.  It’s about using technology, logic, creativity and computational thinking to solve problems that cross all disciplines.  It requires the systematic breakdown (decomposition) of both the problem and the solution.  We need to prepare pupils for how to live in an increasingly digital world by equipping them with the knowledge, understanding and skills to solve as yet unknown problems using tools and technologies that do not yet exist.  We can work towards achieving this by using computing as a means of making sense of the world and using what the children learn in computing across the curriculum.

The best primary practice includes a blend of rigorous, discrete, subject teaching and equally effective cross curricular links.  Both approaches are needed for effective learning to take place, to enable children to make links between subjects and to set learning in meaningful contexts.  Using computing throughout the primary curriculum offers a way to enrich and deepen learning through engaging, interconnected, topics.

I have put together a selection of free resources and links to others to help teachers get started with ideas and inspiration for enriching learning and exploring computing through a rich variety of media and technologies in cross curricular contexts.

cross curricular computational thinking

Click to download poster

Computational Thinking

http://icomp.site/cthink

 

 

 

 

 

Cross Curricular computing

Free Cross-Curricular Computing Planning

http://www.icompute-uk.com/hoc

 

 

Cross Curricular Podcasting

Podcasting

Podcasting

http://icomp.site/podcast

 

 

 

 

cross curricular CT Diary

Click to Download

Free Computational Thinking Diary

http://icomp.site/diary (Download)

 

 

 

 

Cross curricular QR Codes

QR Codes enable mobile learning

QR Codes in the Classroom

http://icomp.site/qr

 

 

 

 

 

Cross curricular Robotics

Robotics

Robotics

http://www.icompute-uk.com/hoc

 

 

Visit www.icompute-uk.com to find out more about our highly acclaimed comprehensive primary computing schemes of work and cross curricular computing pack.

Save

Free Valentines Day Coding Lesson

Valentines Day – Spreading the Love with Code!

 

Valentines Day

Click to download

Play and code this Valentines day with our free coding activity: a romantic themed Cupid game for pupils aged 7-11 using Scratch.

Throughout the year, I create free themed computing lessons, and I’ve written another step-by-step lesson plan and some teacher/pupil computing resources that I’m using in my computing classes and am adding to iCompute to celebrate Valentines Day.

Love is in the air but Cupid needs a little help aiming his arrow!  Challenge your pupils to program Cupid’s bow to respond to user input and aim to catch the heart of a love interest.

Valentines Day Coding Game

Valentines Day Resource

 

Ideas for differentiation, extension and enrichment are included in the lesson plan.  Plus program templates and partially-written programs for teacher and pupil support. Lots of opportunities to be inspired and get creative!

 

Check out my other free themed primary computing lesson plans and resources elsewhere on this blog and by visiting icompute-uk.com/free-stuff.html

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Primary Cryptography

Encryption and Decryption

Enigma Factfile

Click to download

Since man first began writing there has been a desire to send messages in secret: in code.  Codes and ciphers are forms of secret communication. A code replaces words with letters, numbers or symbols.  A cipher rearranges letters or uses substitutes to disguise the message. This process is called encryption. The art of writing and solving codes and ciphers is called cryptography.

Codes and ciphers have been used throughout time when people wanted to keep messages private.  Cryptography has, and is still, used by governments, military, companies, and organisations to protect information and messages.

Today, encryption is used to protect data and data transfer between computers.  Documents, data and messages are encrypted to protect confidentiality.  Modern encryption methods are very clever but their underlying principles remain that of those ancient methods.

I’m writing a unit of work on cryptography which will be published to iCompute for Primary Schools computing scheme of work.  Here, the children will unleash their inner spy and learn about how data can be transferred in secret over distances. They will learn how codes and ciphers have been used throughout history and explore a number of different ways that data can be encrypted and decrypted.

As part of it, I’ve been putting together resources on the history of cryptography.  Here is a brief introduction to the Enigma machine and how the magnificent men and women at Bletchley helped shorten World War II with their code breaking skills!

The new cryptography unit – iCrypto – will be available for Key Stage 2 soon.  Visit www.icompute-uk.com to find out more about our acclaimed primary computing scheme of work.

Join us for the Hour of Code™ 2017

The Hour of Code is Coming!

HOC 2017Not long to go now for the Hour of Code 2017 (December 4th – 10th) and we can’t wait to see how many pupils and schools participate around the world.

HOCiCompute are delighted to partner with code.org again this year by providing lots of fun, creative, activities for schools to use as part of this event and throughout the year.  We’ve put together, free, Christmas themed lessons and lots more, including saving Santa with Scratch, animating a snowman and delivering Santa’s presents with parrot drones!  Included are detailed step-by-step lesson plans with built in differentiation and creative ideas for extension and enrichment.

The Hour of Code™ is a global movement and worldwide effort to celebrate computer science. Organised by Computer Science Education Week and Code.org it reaches tens of millions of students in 180+ countries through a one-hour introduction to computer science and computer programming.

In England, children have a statutory entitlement to a computer science education from the age of five. iCompute provides full coverage for the National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.

Each year, we offer free computing lesson plans and computing resources to support the Hour of Code™ and help raise awareness of and engagement in computing science around the world.

We really hope you join us this year for The Hour of Code and introduce your pupils to the joy of creative computing!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

BETT Awards 2018

BETT Award 2018 Nomination for iCompute!

BETT Awards 2018

We are thrilled to announce that iCompute has been shortlisted for a coveted BETT Award for iCompute in the EYFS.

ERA 2017 Finalist - iCompute in the EYFS

BETT Awards 2018 Finalist – Early Years Content

The Bett Awards are a celebration of the inspiring creativity and innovation that can be found throughout technology for education. The awards form an integral part of Bett each year, the world’s leading showcase of education technology solutions.

The Director of BESA, Patrick Hayes, who chairs the panel of judges for the Bett Awards, said:

This was a record year for the Bett Awards, with more applications from EdTech companies than ever before, coming in from around the world. This reflects the status of the Bett Awards as being the global gold standard when it comes to recognising excellence in education technology. The quality of applications was incredibly high this year, and judges had a lot of difficult decisions to make when deciding who the finalists should be. It is no mean feat to be a Bett Awards finalist, and huge congratulations should be in order for all of the companies who made the cut this year!”

The panel of judges selected iCompute for the shortlist according to rigorous criteria, taking into consideration the innovative nature of the products, their impact on teaching and learning in the classroom, and their cost effectiveness in terms of educational aims and results.

Find out more about iCompute in the EYFS.

Liane O’Kane, Managing Director of iCompute, comments:

“Being shortlisted as a BETT finalist this year is a great achievement and a reflection of our dedication and hard work in helping schools teach primary computing creatively and well.  We constantly add to and update our product range to remain at the forefront of advances in educational technology.  We never take these things for granted and are very proud that our expertise and innovation in teaching & learning with, and about, technology has been recognised by BETT and BESA once again.  Fingers crossed for a win this year!’

The full list of finalists is available on Besa’s website.  The winners of the Bett Awards 2018 will be announced on the evening of Wednesday 24 January 2018.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save