Robotics Camp is Held
Prairie Hills USD No. 113 hosted a three-day robotics and coding camp for district students June 19-21, 2019. The experience was planned by the district’s technology integration specialist, Lisa Suhr, and facilitated with help from Sabetha High School and Middle School teacher Liz Badertscher. Participating students from grades 5 through 7 spent three mornings exploring concepts related to computer science with a focus on programming several different types of education-related robots and computer software. The camp was kicked off with lessons and practice time learning about Scratch, a programming platform developed by MIT, then transitioned to time for collab- orative coding challenges using Dash, a drivable robot, and Dot, its stationary counterpart. Dash and Dot are programmed using an iPad app that sends commands from the student to the robot via Bluetooth technology. Next, students rotated through several rotations to explore the following resources: one, Sphero robots are softball-shaped robots programmed to roll using an iPad app connected via bluetooth; two, Ozobot robots are shaped like a ping-pong ball with a flat bottom with wheels and sensors. Ozo- bots can follow lines drawn on paper and read colored patterns as a form of code, or can also be programmed via an app; three, the Makey-Makey kit station had students experimenting with an invention kit that turns everyday objects into a touchpad that can interface with a computer; four, a Hummingbird Robotics kit station allowed students to focus on the inside of robots by wiring a small motherboard that with sensors and lights before it could be programmed using the iPad app to control it; five, an Ozmo cod- ing program allowed students to explore basic coding concepts using manipulative blocks arranged on a table that were read by the iPad camera; and six, a final rotation was to explore Bloxels video game design program and physical blocks that allows students to design artistic creations to make characters, background art and objects which are then used to create their own playable video game. Designs can be made using colored blocks similar to Legos which are read by the iPad camera, or designs can also be created right in the iPad app. After students had a taste of all of the available resources. Each student selected one to explore more fully with their remaining time. They were charged with creating a product using their tool that could help teach Kansas geography to their peers. Students spent some time learning about important Kansas geographical features to include in their project, then got busy designing, creating, testing and revising with input from their classmates. Projects included several video games, including one that had users traveling through Kansas geography to help Dorothy find Toto and others where players collected Kansas symbols like wheat or limestone as part of the game-design. There was also a giant floor map of Kansas including major cities, rivers and landforms with driving challenges for the Sphero robot to navigate, as well as a board game that required the tiny Ozobot robot to navigate the map of Kansas while students answered Kansas geography questions along the way and earned Kansas-themed costumes for the robot when questions were answered correctly. The Dash and Dot and Sphero robots used in the camp were purchased with funds provided by the Appleseed Innovation Grant available to teachers in USD No. 113 school through application each year. The grant encourages teachers to think creatively by pro- viding funds to try pilot programs with an innovative bent.