A tool that I have been using for the past few years to teach students about computer science, coding, and robotics, is the Ozobots. I have used the Ozobots in both a classroom and STEM Lab setting, with students in grade kindergarten through 8th grade. I really like using these tiny robots for a few different reasons.
Throughout my years of using Ozobots, I have created various tools and lessons to support student learning with these incredible robots. You can check out the video below to see a preview of some of the resources for Ozobots that I have available on my Teachers Pay Teachers store Love-Fleck EdTech.
I will be the first one to tell you that I am not always the best at integrating Art into STEM. Many teachers can do this seamlessly, but I am not one of them. Recently I was invited to participate in "Art Discovery Day" at one of the elementary schools that I support. I jumped at the chance to open the STEM Lab for some "STEAM" and to challenge myself to create Art activities in the STEM Lab.
I decided that I wanted to include robots in the Art Discovery Day, so I grabbed some Ozobots and Spheros and came up with a plan. From my experience, students really love drawing the line codes for Ozobot to follow, and often don't get enough time in the STEM Lab to do so. So, with this in mind, I pulled some giant butcher paper and brought brand new markers. The paper was set up on the ground, with the markers, Ozobots, and a copy of the Ozocodes. The directions given to students were simply to draw line codes for Ozobot to follow, and work together with your group.
With the Spheros, I've always wanted to paint with them, but never had the perfect opportunity, until now. I put together a big box to keep the Sphero contained, and pulled more big butcher paper. With dots of paint scattered around the paper, students were told to drive the Sphero and spread the paint. I set a timer for 2 minutes for each student, and that seemed to work really well.
In addition to the Ozobots and the Spheros, I opened up a few computers for the "Ozobot Shape Tracer" game which is my favorite way to introduce students to Ozoblockly coding. Not all students want to get down on the floor and draw or paint, so offering a third option of computer coding worked out really well.
The Art Day sessions were successful and students moved between activities on their own, when they felt they were ready to change. I didn't hear any complaints from the students that attended my sessions, and it appeared that most of them were having a blast!
If you are planning to integrate some "A" in to your STEM, I highly suggest these open-ended activities that really give students the chance to create and play with the robots in a different and unique way.
This is Part 2 of my STEM Lab Story. If you have not read Part 1, you can find it HERE.
Let's head back to December of 2015 for a few minutes. That is when I decided to leave my tenured 5th grade teaching job in Vista and take a grant-funded "STEM Lab" job in Oceanside, working with K-8 students on a military base. Kinda crazy to leave so much security and take a risk with a new position. However, I needed a change and felt like I was hitting the ceiling in my self-contained 5th grade classroom, as far as STEM related activities and innovation. So, long story short, although it was a risk, it definitely worked out for me and my teaching career.
When I first arrived at Stuart Mesa Elementary, the STEM Lab wasn't even completed yet. I actually was able to watch Creative Learning Systems build the STEM Lab (SMART Lab), set up the islands, and unpack the materials. And, how lucky was I that the Lab came with all the technology and supplies!
Check out the Google Earth Photo sphere of my STEM Lab HERE.
Once the STEM Lab was installed, I went through a week of training with Creative Learning Systems, then had a few extra days of support from them. I spent about a month organizing and learning as much about the Lab as I could, before ever seeing students. That is one thing that really helped me to be successful with the Lab, taking time to create a plan and familiarize myself with the kits, software, hardware, etc. If you are just beginning a lab or slowly piecing one together, take as much time as possible to develop your plan for success!
Creative Learning Systems also provides a curriculum, which I spent time getting to know. Since I was at a K-8 school, I had to figure out a plan for K-5, as well as a plan for 6-8 (the STEM Lab was an enrichment option for them). I familiarized myself with the curriculum for all grade levels, and methodically mapped out what K-5 and 6-8 would work on in the STEM Lab.
In addition to learning as much as possible about the STEM Lab, I also developed quite a bit within the Google Apps for Education (G-Suite) to supplement the lessons and activities. This included a STEM journal, which I created in Google Slides. There was one journal for grades 3-5 and another one for 6-8. The journal was my way of holding students accountable for their work in the STEM Lab. Each day students had to take a picture of their work, and write a reflection on their activity. They recorded the things that worked, as well as their failures and plans for next time. I distributed and collected the STEM journals through Google Classroom.
Since it was January 2016 by the time I officially opened the lab (Read about the Grand Opening HERE), I developed a plan for the remainder of the 2015/2016 school year. The 6-8 grade students would work through 15 different activities (one at each desk/computer) with a partner, spending about 3 days on each one. Students in grades 3-5 would work through 5 activities (one at each island) with 6 students working on the same activity at once. They would also work with a partner and spend 4 days on each activity. My little ones in K-2 visited the STEM lab once a week, and would have a 45 minute activity, whole class. The teachers in grades K-5 stayed in the Lab with the students, which was extremely helpful!
That's it for Part 2 of the STEM Lab story. Keep looking out for Part 3 to come out soon!
Have a question? Leave a Comment Below! Thanks for Reading!!
May 19th was the 2nd Annual STEMfest at Stuart Mesa elementary. This event provided an opportunity for 6th - 8th grade students to share and present their learning with family and community members. The STEM-focused projects ranged from Virtual Reality to Scratch coding to Aeronautics. Students displayed their STEM notebooks, model or prototype, and a tri-fold board with information about their project and their process. As visitors approached the tri-fold board, students were expected to share their work for approximately 2-3 minutes, answering questions and demonstrating their prototype. The event was overall a celebration of the students' hard work and learning this school year.
Special thanks to community members at the event, including representatives from Oceanside Unified School District, the Marine Corps General of the Camp Pendleton base, and Assembly member Rocky Chavez. You helped to provide an authentic audience for our students to present their learning, and we are grateful for your attendance.
I would like to add a new couple of new robots to the SmartLab at Stuart Mesa, and I need your help! Meet the Ozobot!! This little robot is en excellent introduction to coding and robotics for younger learners, but can also be used by students in upper grades. Students (K-2) can use markers and stickers to write a physical code for Ozobot to follow, or (3-8) create code on a computer or iPad to control Ozobot.
I have created a project on Donors Choose for 6 Ozobots. If students work with a partner, that means that I can have 12 students working and learning with Ozobots at a time. Since I work with multiple grade levels at Stuart Mesa, that means that potentially every student on campus could have an opportunity to write code and learn about robotics from the Ozobots. If you would like to donate to my Donors Choose project, HERE is the link. If you donate before March 10, 2016 and use the code word EMPOWER, your donation will be matched by Donors Choose. So basically a $10 donation will become a $20 donation.
If you would like to learn more about the Ozobots, HERE is a link to the company website.
All thoughts, opinions, reflections, and ideas are that of Heather Love-Fleck, and not the school district that employs her. She reserves the right to change her thoughts, opinions, reflections, and ideas at any time.