A friend recently asked me to share some of my thoughts about why Ozobots are a worthy purchase for her school. As a long-time OzoFanGirl, the following recommendation and overview is what I sent to her. I sure hope that it persuades her administrators to put a bunch of Ozobots in the budget!
Ozobots have been a wonderfully popular item in my STEAMmakers Club and with students from grades K-5 in my schools. They are a relatively inexpensive way to get students introduced to coding, and there are a multitude of ways to differentiate lessons so that the user experience is always evolving. All materials related to Ozobots are free! There are free iPad apps, a free website on which to code, and free fun printables and lesson plans on the Ozobot site.
Kindergarteners and first graders are first introduced to Ozobots as cute little robots that know how to follow trails. I teach them terms like SENSORS (on the bottom), PATTERNS, and CODE. After they explore how Ozobots work on many of the free printables available on the site, I have them begin to draw trails on paper. Lessons in line thickness and curves vs. angles ensue, and even line thickness is a challenge as students begin to understand that coding is a precise thing! Students add in colors and begin to dabble in drawing their own Ozocodes correctly (it’s a challenge!) Students at this age also really like to use the iPad apps with the Ozobots because the lines are already drawn for them, the Ozobots can “dance”, and it just adds another layer of engagement.
Second and third graders get pretty good at creating trails that include drawn codes. Precision is key when making these trails with markers, and students refer to the Ozocodes sheets to begin to draw more and more complex routes for their robots to travel. Teachers can issue challenges in which certain codes must be incorporated. Students often start making costumes for their Ozobots that relate to different literature stories they read and programming Ozobots to travel paths related to stories. (Try Goldilocks or Three Billy Goat’s Gruff.) Again, the free iPad apps continue to motivate this age group because Ozocodes can easily be dragged in and there are some fun contests/games to play with peers. Students who are emerging coders can start to explore the Ozoblockly games on the website.
By fourth and fifth grades, it’s a great time to really introduce blockly coding. This works with the Ozobot Bits and the Evo. With the Evo, students now can create programs on the computer, hold the Ozobot to the screen, and the program is downloaded directly to the Ozobot! When it doesn’t work as planned, students go back in and debug. Many teachers are doing amazing interdisciplinary integration with coding Ozobots. Some great examples include: Solve a multi-step word problem with a number line that the Ozobot travels, navigating through a large map to given destinations (I’ve seen a great lesson with the NYC New Year’s parade route!), have students design a 9-hole miniature golf course with challenges that the Ozobot must be programmed to navigate…there are options for every subject and every ability level.
There are all sorts of games and challenges in the user portal on the website! I have one posted there that is a serious timing challenge and can be aligned with the literacy idea of revising/editing: https://portal.ozobot.com/lessons/detail/cube-challenges .
I hope this is helpful. I’m obviously a big fan of Ozobots and know that I haven’t even scratched the surface of their potential. The online community keeps growing and growing, and educators continue to share resources. This isn’t a fad – I got my first Ozobots four years ago and the company continues to thrive, improve, and develop new resources all the time. At almost every Ed Tech conference and edcamp, you can find people who are still inventing new uses, challenges, and integrations. I would highly recommend Ozobots for any teacher, school, or district that is looking for an affordable way to integrate STEM and coding into their programs.