After an incredible week of Hour of Code, Ollie and the Spheros are heading home to the Tech Wizards’ Club today. I am not only sad about this happening, but my students are as well. All last week, I kept being ran up to by my various students from each grade level asking: “When are the Spheros coming back to our classroom?” I replied that they wouldn’t be for a long while. I then was asked: “Why not?” Its hard to explain to students that schools have limited budgets and that we are unable to have all the amazing learning resources that are out there all the time. I even had one student ask if they could buy one and then bring it in for the classroom. Bless their heart, I said they would have to ask their teacher before they did that.
In the last six years since I entered instructional technology in education, I have seen the most amazing innovation and creativity with students from iPad to augmented reality. However, in the last year and a half, I have never seen anything quite like education with robotic devices like Spheros, Bee-bots, Ozobots, Dash & Dot and Parrot drones. The learning and understanding in coding has been such an amazing experience in the last week I saw with my students has been so wonderful to see and experience. Seeing how they apply a ramp jump to mathematics or story telling with an Ollie is what we all way to see our students perform and understand. Its very heart breaking knowing that those wonderful devices that can generate such incredible learning not just with students, but also with teachers, now has to be packed back up and returned.
While I know we are working hard to get our STEAM art room Donors Choose funded to bring Spheros and Drones to our classrooms on a regular basis, it has proven just like with all crowd funding to be a slow movement. We know eventually it will be funded but the missed opportunities that our students could be doing right after winter break is discouraging. The changes that have occurred in the last two weeks we had Ollie and friends and even talked about getting Bee-bots or Ozobots for our school next year has been wonderful, but we knew it was going to end. I have just let my students know that Ollie and friends will return and when they do, they will be able to do more than they ever thought possible in the classroom.
I want to thank all the educators who introduced me to Sphero and all these other amazing bots that have really open a new work of creativity and understanding to my students and I hope to see even more innovation with them in 2016.