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Over the past weeks pupils in Primary 5/6 at Rosewell Primary School and have been developing their computational thinking skills and have applied what they have learned to code Sphero bots, programmable robotic balls. The teacher and pupils were supported throughout this experience by Lauren Arkley from Midlothian’s Learning Technology Team.

The pupils developed their understanding of what an algorithm is (a precise sequence of instructions or a set of rules for performing a task ) and collaborated as a team to create their own algorithms using the Sphero Edu app.

The children were given weekly lessons which had follow up challenges and were asked to problem solve in order to create a successful algorithm for the Sphero. This included creating Sphero mazes, a Sphero toss and catch game as well as art work.

As the children created together, they tinkered with different controls by trying out a variety of sequences and experimented with a variety of functions, finding what worked well and what didn’t work. Following this, pupils then began to debug programs by identifying what was wrong in their algorithms and fixing it. When completed, the children were able to watch the physical output and evaluate the result.

The pupils shared that not only did they develop a wide range of computational thinking skills through each challenge but they also developed their social skills and used skills from across the curriculum, particularly in STEM. In many of the challenges the children had to consider angles, speed, distance and time.

Our final challenge involved the children creating art work by putting paint on the Sphero. Before they were allowed to use paint, each team had to prove that they had written a program which would make sure the Sphero would keep the paint on the paper and off the carpet. This was a tricky task but the outcome was great. Please see some of the Sphero art below.

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