Ozobot – more than just a toy

So, I’ve seen Ozobots a few times demonstrated at conferences and Ed Tech events. These presentations have always been about these robot’s line following & colour code recognition; basically these demos have included eager educators drawing coloured track lines on paper and gleefully watching the Ozobots following their drawn lines. The attraction to these little robots is almost instantaneous, so I can imagine that they’d be a hit in your classroom. To be honest though, I always just assumed that the line following ‘trick’ was the limit to these tech toys.

In the past week I’ve bought a couple of Ozobots for my kids as a fun holiday activity while visiting their grandparents. I also attended an #ACCE2016 Conference workshop run by @kdoch8 and that’s when I realised/noticed the potential of the related OzoBlockly programming editor. The editor allows you to physically program the Ozobot; yeeha!  There are plenty resources on their website to get you started too.

blocklyeditor

The OzoBlockly editor is best used on a tablet device so that you can easily load the Ozobot with your drag/drop code. One thing I learned was that it is best to ensure your iPad’s screen is at it’s brightest setting. The editor currently has 4 levels, so start at Level 4!  🙂  You can also see the converted JavaScript code (at least the main part of it anyway) and supposedly the upcoming Level 5 should allow the user to type JavaScript and therefore avoid drag/drop functionality all together.

blocklyeditor2

A fun activity that we did in @kdoch8 workshop was to draw only part of the track and write hints for what should be in the missing track.  The tracks were exchanged with participants and we then had to figure out how to complete the tracks given the hints.  We would then test these tracks with the Ozobot.

 

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I think this would be a good tech toy to invest in for primary school and possibly for short units in Years 7 or 8 (assuming no programming learning before this).  Integrating these into a unit of work would likely not be too difficult; I could imagine possibly having young students study urbanisation where the class build roadways, houses & buildings using cardboard, paper, maybe some LittleBits and circuits and then get the ozobots to navigate around their city.  I have also seen similar ideas using Sphero but oh the Ozobots are easier to control!

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