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My goal is to provide engaging technology students can use to learn more about science through hands-on experiences.

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Sphero Robots for Physics and Coding

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Pinellas Park Middle School 
Sarah Swoch 
Students Impacted:
November 4, 2019


Thank you to the following investor for funding this grant.


Raymond James Financial - $1,019.76


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Impact to My Classroom

# of Students Impacted: 140

Students used the Sphero robots during our unit on motion. The students drove the robots on a course and used the sensor data to create distance vs. time graphs of the robot's travels. They then calculated the velocity and created velocity vs. time graphs, followed by calculations of acceleration and creation of acceleration vs. time graphs. Once they had completed the graphs I showed them how to use the Sphero to see the actual graphs. Students were able to compare their graphs to the Sphero's graphs to check their work. They were also able to begin to understand the differences between the types of graphs and the meaning of the lines on each graph. 


In order to create a consistent course for the robot the students had to create a program using block code so the robot would drive. It was difficult at first, but they were able to collaborate with each other to successfully create a program. Some students even got creative with the program and would have the robot say different things if it ran into a wall. The challenge of programming the robot enhanced the lesson for students, especially those that already had a good understanding of motion. 


I've also been using the robots with STEM Academy and the students have been programming the Sphero robots to navigate mazes and complete tasks. It has been great to let the students have some free time with the robots as well. They discover different things the robots can do and then I can apply those capabilities to new lesson ideas. The STEM Academy students are also ambassadors. They have been using the Sphero as an ice breaker during parent nights, prospective student nights, and accepted student nights. Driving the robots up to people has been a great way for them to start a conversation about what we do at our school. 

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driving the sphero

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Original Grant Overview


My goal is to provide engaging technology students can use to learn more about science through hands-on experiences.  


What will be done with my students

Sphero robots have sensors inside them that can map distance, velocity, and acceleration. Students must use code blocks to develop a program for the robot to run. After developing the code blocks they can run the program and Sphero Edu App will graph the course the robot ran. Students will link the graphs to the real-life motion of the Sphero. From this data, students can link graphical representations of motion to the actual motion.


Benefits to my students

Students often struggle to understand how a graphical representation of data transfers to real-life motion. Through this activity, students will get to use technology that they have to learn to program in order to create real-life data to examine. The Sphero robots are unique and something students often have not seen before. The novel experience inspires students to be engaged with the content, far more than if I were to just present them with graphs and ask them to explain what is happening. Students will also get some experience coding, which is a marketable skill.

The robots themselves can be run using iPads I already have in my classroom. The accelerometer and gyroscope will provide many opportunities for students to analyze motion data. The Sphero BOLT also has an infrared sensor, magnetometer, and light sensor to make additional observations. The jump ramps and terrain packs will allow students to safely analyze data for falling objects and movement on an incline.  


Describe the Students

Pinellas Park Middle School is a Title I school that serves free breakfast and lunch to all students.
My students are 18% Asian, 11% Black, 22% Hispanic, 7% Mixed, and 42% White.
13 students have 504 plans, 12 are ESE students, 3 speak Arabic, 1 speaks Bengali, 1 speaks Khmer, 1 speaks French, 1 speaks German, 1 speaks Italian, 1 speaks Laotian, 14 speak Spanish, and 14 speak Vietnamese at home.  


Budget Narrative

A kit of 6 Sphero SPRK+ and 6 covers for the robots with a terrain pack, maze tape, and jump ramps to study motion. The Sphero Bolt has a higher price than the SPRK+ but also has a longer run time and additional sensors that can help advanced students investigate more questions. 



# Item Cost
1 Half Dozen Kit (6 Spheros and covers) $799.80
2 Sphero Terrain Pack $24.99
3 Sphero Edu Maze Tape $24.99
4 Jump Ramps $19.99
5 Sphero Bolt $149.99
  Total: $1,019.76


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