#SpheroinScience: Creating and interpreting motion graphs through basic coding

Using Sphero, students can manipulate speed, distance and time variables, and analyze distance-time graphs using the Sphero sensor data.

Step 1: Set up your area

Step 2: Code the sphero to perform desired motion

Step 3: Run code and iterate.

I have found teaching 8th graders about distance, speed and time can sometimes be a little lackluster. We give them scenarios about a car moving at a x speed, for y time, and ask them to find the distance traveled. To make this topic more hands-on and accessible, I had students learn basic block coding using Sphero. The Sphero executed programmed motions such as rolling 1.0 meters, turning around and returning to its starting position but in half the time.

After students became comfortable with having the Sphero complete simple motion tasks, they were given various distance-time graphs, and were tasked with replicating these graphs using the Sphero. The sensor data built in to the Sphero allowed them to collect the information required, and students learned to interpret different types of motion on these graphs.

Students spent about 6 class periods using the Sphero, and as homework, they were asked to complete problems that required them to apply the relationship between distance, speed and time that they were learning through the Sphero. While I did not change the learning outcomes in this unit, I did notice an increase in the level of engagement, and an improvement in students’ intuitive understanding of motion.

For more information contact: Shabari Lasrado

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