Sphero National Park Mazes

Sometimes the students take a project in an unexpected direction and make it better!

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My middle school classes have been working on several coding units during the past few weeks. They began by using Apple’s Swift Playgrounds to learn some of the basics and vocabulary of coding. Then they transferred what they had been learning about code to the Sphero Edu app while working on a variety of Sphero Coding Challenges.

Our final project has been to design a maze and then code Sphero through it. We have done this activity before, but this year we added a theme to our mazes – US National Parks! Students did a bit of research on their selected park, then designed a maze where Sphero would give a tour of the park. Students have been challenged to use movement, color, actions, and speaking/sounds as Sphero moved through the park. Here is an example of Nick’s maze design for Glacier National Park:

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Once their plans were completed, I expected students to put a bit of tape on the floor, print out a few pictures, and add a simple ramp or tunnel to build their mazes. But as their ideas developed, my room began to explode with cardboard, styrofoam and paper cups, pipe cleaners, and gobs of masking tape. Students were having a blast BUILDING stuff – not always pretty, but definitely related to what they had learned about their national park. Here are a few of their ideas:

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While researching, Ethan learned that the only way to visit Isle Royale Nationa; Park was by seaplane or boat. So he designed a boat to carry Sphero to the island. In his coding, Sphero pauses so that when it reaches the island, he can remove the boat, then Sphero can hike through the island.

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Ryan’s Sphero will travel deep into Mammoth Cave – note the cave with pipe cleaner stalactites.

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Sphero traveling down a waterfall at Katmai National Park. Note the salmon swimming upstream. Some bears are going to be added to this scene.

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Joshua’s cardboard structures from the Grand Canyon included a bridge and the Sky Walk.

Here are some videos showing Sphero going through the National Park Mazes:

 

 

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