Another year, another chance to get students and teacher excited about computer science and coding during #CSEdWeek! This year we reloaded many of the activities we used previously because of the success we had with them, but we did some exploring and took our use of Ozobots to the next level and were extremely happy with the results.
We decided to use a push-in model this year to try and bring fun, engaging activities right to the classroom and give teachers the experience of how CS can be implemented in their classes for a variety of subjects. We made this effort because in previous years we only offered lunch time activities and stations in library which resulted in teachers not being present when students were engaged and participating making those classroom connections tough to make and try and continue the momentum throughout the year.
For those of you not familiar with Ozobots they are great little devices to take students from basic introduction of coding all the way through more complex block coding sets. We currently have a class set of Evos which are the slightly more robust version that include a few more bells and whistles as well as the ability to update firmware. The Ozobot website has an amazing resource of lessons you can search through (grade-level, topic, standard) to really take advantage of their capabilities from the basic color coding through the more complex Ozoblockly coding.
Ozobots start simple with color-based coding using markers and paper. The colors you need are black, red, green, and blue which allow you to create paths for the Ozobot sensors to follow. Colors can be combined to create simple codes for speed changes, directions, timers and fun moves like tornadoes or zig-zags! We used the color coding function as a way to introduce coding and the Ozobots to younger grades (K-2) and had them create code paths that spell out their names or initials.
Though this is the second year we have had the Ozobots, this was the first year we dove into using the Ozoblockly coding aspect of them and frankly, we were blown away at how easy it is to get started and have students do simple to complex programming in such a short amount of time. Loading the code can be done across multiple different devices including our favorite, Chromebooks, as it just takes a series of flashing color lights read by the Ozobot sensors. We had our older students (3rd-8th) use the Ozoblockly coding to guide their Ozobots through a maze of their own creation and program their bot to move from one point on a grid to another to combine the coding practice with identifying points on a x and y-axis.
We had such great success and engagement with the Ozobots during #CSEdWeek that my fellow integrator, Anita Moose (@amooseIT), and I are currently creating schedules to continue push ins with classrooms in all three buildings and allowing for Teachers to request specific topics and standards for us to plan around to make the best use of the Ozobots integration into a teacher's curriculum. If you have had similar success or other great experiences with the Ozobots please leave any feedback in the comments below.
Director of Technology for Traverse City Area Public Schools. Level 2 Google Certified Educator. Former Tech Integration Specialist and 4th grade teacher at Aspen School District and Spartan for life! Go Green!