Mathematics is a subject that has had its ups and downs. One single problem can generate high levels of curiosity or anxiety. So, in the age of unlimited access to technology, how do we teach our students modern learning skills with an understanding of mathematical concepts? Enter Sphero.
In late 2016, I was introduced to these robots for use in a junior maths class. I saw the benefits of using them in senior maths classes. I bought four … and the rest is history.
Last year, we used these robots to assess the following standards in Level 1 Mathematics:
Linear Algebra: Students measured the speeds of robots with various speeds and starting positions. They drew graphs in Desmos and discussed the outcomes of the race.
Right Angled Triangles: Students had to program the robot to travel from the year of their birth to the month, date and back to the year using trigonometry and bearings.
Number and Measurement: After buying household materials from the Maths shop students needed to construct a sphero chariot to deliver 100 marbles in the shortest time possible.
Bivariate Data: They had to navigate a robot to investigate the relationship between the number of obstacles and time it took the robot to complete the course.
Traditionally assessments in maths have been closed book tests. With the use of these robots, we used students’ NSN numbers to randomise each assessment and thus create unique assessments for each when they were ready.
The tasks that used Sphero robots increased engagement levels. Feedback from students at the end of 2017 revealed that right-angled triangles were the most challenging topic they found and coincidently, it was the one they enjoyed the most as well.
With the success of integrating these robots in our courses, we are looking at developing resources which use these robots in Level 2 Maths standards and Level 3 Calculus standards.
By Subash Chandar K, Curriculum Leader of Mathematics and Statistics, Ormiston Senior College, Auckland.