This summer I made it my mission to bring computer science to the students and teachers involved with our Summer Academy. The theme of the Summer Academy was the Olympics, and the district coaches compiled units for each grade level that included GLAD strategies, Thinking Maps, Project Based Learning, and technology. I wanted to include lessons using the Ozobots, and I knew it had to be connected to our summer curriculum. Enter, Ozobot Olympics.
The Idea and The Games
Coding Ozobot to Follow a Path
After attending a webinar hosted by Ozobot featuring Richard Born, I was inspired to find a way to create a race of some sort that would involve a code that would be loaded into multiple Ozobots. The Ozobots would then travel along paths that were similar but different enough to mean that one Ozobot would “win” the race by arriving at the end first. I chose to call it an Equestrian race. After observing the first Equestrian race, students would then create a similar code in order to have their Ozobots partake in a 50-meter “swim.”
Coding Ozobot in Free Movement
I also wanted to include some activities where students would program Ozobots in free-movement mode. The first activity I created was Ozobot Golf. In Ozobot Golf, students are given 4 different pages that have a hole in different locations on the page. Each page also includes a sand trap and a water hazard. The goal is for students to get Ozobot to the hole using the fewest code blocks possible and by avoiding the hazards. If Ozobot travels through either hazard or touches a hazard, students gain a point. If Ozobot lands in a hazard on its way to the hole, students gain 2 points. The player with the lowest number of points at the end of the 4 holes is the winner. Each hole has a par score indicated based on the number of code blocks it took me to get Ozobot into the hole.
The last activity I created was Ozobot Gymnastics. This activity begins with the viewing of a video of a 2012 Olympic floor routine performed by a gymnast from Russia. In the routine, she steps out of bounds twice, but still executes some incredible tumbling passes and some dance moves. During the lesson, the students and I discussed which of Ozobots codes would symbolize tumbling (movement blocks) and which would symbolize dancing (light effects). We talked about how the gymnasts do dance moves interspersed with tumbling blocks and how they lose points for stepping out of bounds. The students were then tasked with creating a 1-2 minute routine using a certain number of blocks with the ultimate goal of not touching the line or going over the line of the gymnastics floor that I provided for them. For extra fun, students could set their routines to free music from websites such as incompetech.com and jamendo.com.
The Lesson Progression
Due to time constraints and the number of students who already had experience using Ozobots, (not many!) the progression of lessons changed dramatically from when I first envisioned the Ozobot Olympics. I had wanted to visit each classroom 4-5 times, but it turned out that the most we could do was 3 one-hour classroom visits. In the first visit, students became acquainted with Ozobots and learned to program them using markers and paper. In the second lesson, students experimented with coding Ozobot using Ozoblockly.com. Half way through that lesson, we watched the video of the gymnastics routine and students began planning their routine for the gymnastics competition. In the third lesson, students were given 25 minutes or so to solidify and test the Ozobot gymnastics routine as well as identify some instrumental music on incompetech.com that they could use to accompany the routine. The last half-hour of the lesson was reserved for the elimination competition.
I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly all of the students learned to program Ozobot using Ozoblockly. For some students, the paper and marker coding was more challenging because the Ozobot wouldn’t always follow their codes. Sometimes students didn’t put the colors in the correct order, and that was slightly frustrating for them when Ozobot wouldn’t do what they had wanted it to do. However, when we moved to the iPads to use ozoblockly.com, they all did a phenomenal job. Students were completely engaged the entire time we were using the Ozobots. They persevered through learning how to calibrate the Ozobot, which is not such an easy task. They wrote and re-wrote programs for the gymnastics competition multiple times. For me, the biggest win is that the teachers were excited about using the Ozobots and they want to find ways to purchase a set for their own classrooms for the next school year.
Want to see the Ozobot Olympics in action? Check out my Snapchat Story video: