My topic for the Cool Tools “DIY” topic was chosen for me and I’m still exploring it (kicking and screaming just a little.)
A few months ago now, my principal presented me with a “Jumping Sumo” and three Spheros with the words, “Since you’re into coding, I thought you could use these with the kids.” A couple of weeks later I got the following email from my technology director:
So here I am with some really cool stuff and no clue how any of it works. What did I do that gave these people the impression that I know anything about robots??? Let alone enough to TEACH anyone? First I panicked, then I remembered that I have a slew of consultants and turned to my resident experts to help me figure it out. Yes, I handed it all off to my regular crowd of 5th grade visitors.
To be perfectly honest, I have had virtually nothing to do with the actual building of the VEX, though I will say that I believe it was very aptly named. The kids come in everyday after they finish eating their lunch and have finally gotten it assembled. I’ve enjoyed observing the group dynamics. The leader is obvious and the others seem to respect that without question. They are having some trouble actually making it work, but they rarely ask for help. Every time they hit a roadblock they back up and i hear them say, “Let’s check the manual.”
I have to be honest, the social and problem solving skills they’re developing are much more impressive than their technology skills.
I’m not so sure about the Jumping Sumo and the Spheros. So far they just seem to be remote control toys. I don’t see much problem solving involved. I have tried out the Spheros. I even brought one home for the weekend when I first got them. They’re fun. You can create a path for them to follow, but it doesn’t seem to require much thought or skill.