“Student engagement is outstanding… in fact, it was tough getting students to stop working!” – Cole Kleinwolterink, South Middle School

South Middle School Engineering/STEM Teacher Cole Kleinwolterink discovered a cool way to connect and engage with his students. He applied for a classroom grant from the Waukee Community Schools Foundation for Sphero SPRK+ Robots. The very first time he brought them out, he was amazed at how students reacted! “Student engagement is outstanding from the beginning of the lesson to the end when we are using the robots. In fact, it was tough getting students to stop working at the end of class because they wanted to keep programming with the robots!” Kleinwolterink said.

The Sphero SPRK+ looks like a clear ball rolling around on the ground. It’s equipped with Bluetooth, programmable sensors, LED lights, and a gyroscope. Kleinwolterink’s students first learn a coding skill and practice that skill on iPads. Then, students are challenged to apply their new knowledge by programming the SPRK+ Robots. They can use “blocks” or, if students need a greater challenge, JavaScript.  “This means students at various coding abilities can be doing the same activity but at a degree of difficulty that is appropriate for them,” Kleinwolterink said.

Students coded their robots to go through an assortment of mazes and games tailored to each student’s level of ability.  He says the robots enable him to better assess student learning, and he’s able to push students who need more challenge. Kleinwolterink is already looking forward to next semester with the SPRK+ robots. He says they “hook” the students right away and show them that coding is a lot of fun!

THANK YOU TO OUR DONORS AND SPONSORS WHO HELPED PROVIDE THIS INNOVATIVE TOOL FOR WAUKEE STUDENTS!