Ozobots Bring Together Coding, Storytelling, and Art

Keely’s class was filled with energy and excitement last Thursday as students worked to put the finishing touches on their Ozobot worlds. There was a dragon traveling to find magical eggs, an octopus heading straight for home, snails spinning and winding their way through unexpected obstacles, and so much more. This creative unit is about coding, storytelling, and art, and it all begins with a tiny walnut-sized robot and a child’s big imagination.

Students start this exploratory unit by learning about what an Ozobot can do. The robots are shaped like a half-dome with blinking lights and tiny moving wheels on their undersides. They “read” code with sensors and follow lines and move in certain ways depending on the colors they perceive on the surface on which they travel. For example: 
  • A green-black-red sequence of dots will make the Ozobot turn left. 
  • A green-red-green-red sequence will make it spin around. 

Once students understood these concepts students were tasked with creating a character, setting, problem, and solution for their Ozobot story. They designed costumes to bring their Ozobot character to life. As they learned more about coding with their bots, they thought about which codes made sense with their story. For instance, a unicorn stuck in a windstorm can be brought to life with the “tornado code.” An animal fleeing from a predator might use “turbo boost.”

“The project took several weeks,” Keely explained, “but it’s finally coming together. It’s neat to see how they have learned so much along the way. They’re learning to solve their own problems and troubleshoot.” 

When a student had a robot that wasn’t behaving the way it should, friends quickly came to help. Their conversations sounded like this: 
  • “When mine had this problem this is what I did.” 
  • “I wonder what would happen if you cut this piece off right here.” 
  • “If you want it to go that way I think you need to do the dots in a different order.” 
  • “Don’t worry, that happened to me. I know how to fix this.” 

In the fall students worked with Robot Mice as an intro to coding and team building. That formed a good foundation for the Ozobot project. What will students do next? 

“Our next project isn’t so much coding as robotics,” Keely said. “We will learn about LittleBits circuits. We have circuits that can make light, motors, wheels, buzzers, and speakers. The students will tinker with creating simple robots by using sensors - light, temperature, sound, and simple switches to activate their robot.” 
Located in College Park, MD, Friends Community School is a progressive Quaker K-8 day school, founded on the belief that every child is a valued member of our community. We offer a challenging curriculum imbued with strong values of equality, integrity, community, environmental stewardship, simplicity and peaceful conflict resolution, rooted in our Quaker heritage.
Friends Community School
5901 Westchester Park Drive
College Park, Maryland 20740