In this past week, I have shared so many reasons why using Sphero in my Art room was an amazing experience. That's what this blog is all about, CELEBRATION of the great things that happen in the Art Studio. However, this blog is also about the reality of Education and Art. Know that this post is not to cut down on the products of Sphero, but rather to help other make informed decisions. Is Sphero a good choice for your classroom?
I put this image on social media on the last day of Sphero in my classroom. Cynthia Gaub wrote a message that has stuck with me. She said.
"Wow, those are expensive! That cart is over two years of my annual art supply budget."
When I stopped to think of that in these terms, I realized that the cart was about the same as my yearly budget as well. I'm given a goal/budget every year but if there was something I really wanted, I always have can go to PTO and make a request. Our parent group is wonderful at fostering the passions of the teachers and staff. They know if the facilitator of the project is excited and the many students will benefit, it's worth it. That is how these were funded. Alysia Caouette, our Tech Assistant at Hassan Elementary, brought the idea of Sphero to our PTO, they saw the passion and made it happen. I was lucky to be able to bring this amazing device into my classroom because of her passion and the support of the PTO.
So yes, expensive... but if you are in a school that can financially support something like this, we think it was worth it.
Another thing to consider is the battery life. For every one hour of play, the Sphero needs three hours of charge. That made it hard to use them all day long for all of our classes. We made sure to only use half of the Sphero's at a time to allow the other half to charge.
You need a device for every robot. I was amazed how actually the iPads we were using spoke to the correct Sphero. We were using an old generation of iPad as well. Our concern when starting is this app might crash the iPads but it didn't. It worked really well.
As you can see I have a lot of space in my room. For the station I set up, this was helpful. However, anyone can be creative with this. Explore your space, where can you shift furniture, what hallways can you use, use under the tables... It's amazing where you can 'find' space when you have a want to do so.
Big pro of the Sphero is the engagement. EVERY student was excited to give this a try. The energy was SOOOO high for the whole week. A suggestion to any facilitator is to get lots of rest, have high energy yourself, and maybe enlist a couple of volunteers when rolling out this robot to your classes. It helps to have some extra eyes and hands to help students. Maybe a have older kids helping little ones, or parent volunteers, at the very least place, students in groups so they can troubleshoot together... It got to be a bit much to teach this to 25 plus kindergarteners at the same time.
How did I know it was totally engaging? We brought these Sphero into the Art room the week before holiday break. MANY, MANY students changed their request for Santa to be Sphero... so sorry to all the parents and to Santa for the sudden and last minute gift wish change, but... don't you think that shows engagement?
I did take the time to share with all my students that Hassan has these for them to use, learn and play with, so it's really OK if a Sphero was not gift wrapped for them this season.