My students are creative, resilient, humorous, charming and intelligent ninth graders at an urban public school. We are officially a Level 4 under-performing school which means a huge focus on academics and raising test scores. We work hard to build students' basic skills while also incorporating fun, active and engaging ways to learn.
Many of my students are English language learners who recently moved to the United States, most of them from the Cape Verde islands.
They are the hardest working students I know as they are not only learning English and learning to navigate American culture but also studying math, history, science and engineering.
Some of my students have a lot of prior exposure to and experience with technology, and others are having many opportunities for the first time this year. These Ozobots are the perfect way to start a mixed-experience robotics class because they are fun and approachable little robots that level the playing field for everyone. Students loved playing with Ozobots this September, and I need a larger set of bots for the spring semester so that students can work in smaller groups and get more hands-on experience with the bots.
Ozobots are easy to use right away since they are pre-programmed to follow a black line on a paper.
The Ozobot has optical sensors that detect different colors, so color codes can be used to change the robot's speed or direction. So students are able to "program" the robot to move around in different ways by using different colored markers without touching a computer.
When students get used to the idea of controlling the robot with color codes, they can move on to write code on a computer that they can download to the Ozobot to change how the robot reacts to different sensor inputs. In addition to moving around, Ozobots can also make sounds and flash different color lights.
Though using Ozobots feels like play, students are learning about sensors, logic, and algorithms. After this introduction, everyone will have a stronger background so they can build and program more sophisticated robots using LEGO Mindstorms and Arduino.
It is vital for students to start my class with the belief that they each can be successful in robotics and STEM, no matter how much computer experience they have or how fluent they are in English. These Ozobots will make that a reality for my students!
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