Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sphero: Percentages

Sphero the innovative and fantastic programmable robotic ball is something I've posted about in the past.  This is a great Ed Tech "toy" that can be used w/ kids of all ages for a wide variety of purposes. However, Orbotix has worked w/ educators to create STEM related lesson plans for 4/5th grade students.  This latest lesson has students using the Sphero to explore percentages using speed and color.

*All data will be recorded by the student in the downloadable worksheet.

Objectives (aligned to Common Core Math Standards)

  • Create a one-line program that moves the Sphero at a steady speed for a specified amount of time
  • Perform measurements to determine the distance traveled 
  • Perform division to calculate speeds
  • Perform division to calculate percentages
  • Create a two-line program to display a color for a certain length of time
  • Have Sphero light up in primary colors (red)
  • Have Sphero light up in colors that involve two primary colors (yellow and orange)

To start out students will create a new macro (program) using the free app MacroLab, then add a roll command and set it to move at 100% speed for 3000 milliseconds (3 seconds).  Once the Sphero stops rolling and starts sliding a piece of masking tape will placed there.  They will then measure from the masking tape (to where the Sphero first stopped) to where it finally ended up.  They will then calculate the speed by dividing the distance by time (3 seconds).  Then students will repeat this process by modifying the macro for the speed at 50% and then at 30%.  At the end they will divide the distance from the 50% experiment by the 100%, and also the distance from 30% experiment by the 100%.  Students should have values of close to .5 and .3 and convert those into percentages.


This is a very fun activity that has students mixing colors to light up the Sphero (FYI, mixing colors w/ light is very different then mixing colors w/ paint).  Students will create a macro (program) by adding a color (RGB) and a delay command.  The color will be set to 100% red and a delay to 3000 msec (3 seconds).  Then they can modify the macro to use 50% red and to make the colors yellow (100% red & 100% green) and orange (100% red & 50% green).  

A fun challenge will be to have students create two different colors using all three primary colors.  Through experimenting they will be asked to make the colors: white (100% red, 100% green, 100% blue) gray (50% red, 50% green, 50% blue), and purple (70% red, 0% green, 100% blue).

I highly recommend checking out Sphero for Education by clicking here!!!

For my Pinterest board on Sphero click here.

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