in Educator of the Month

April Educator of the Month: eARth to OzoMoon!

“Hellooo… Earth to Ozobot!”

Have you ever said something similar out loud, while trying to communicate with your Evo or Bit via code? We know we have, especially when Ozobot takes on the role of the Moon orbiting around an augmented reality (AR) Earth!

We came across this awe-inspiring, app-smashing project on Twitter and just knew we had to feature Amanda Fleege and her classroom’s model as our Educator for the Month of Earth Day! Please join us in congratulating Amanda by reading all about her creation below.

Tell us about yourself! What is your job and what inspired you to get into the career you have?
I am Amanda Fleege, an Educator, Wife, Toddler Boy Mom, Runner, and Lifelong Learner. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication with a Business Minor and a Master’s of Arts in Elementary Education. I have been an elementary classroom teacher for five years and an Instructional Technology Coach for one year. I love both roles I had in working directly with teachers and students to employ technology in the classroom and foster 21st century learning skills. I currently teach 5th grade at Rhein Benninghoven Elementary School in Kansas.        

How did you think of creating the project?
The idea for this project came to me during a long run with hills under my feet and a hot sun above my head. (Many of my creative/innovative ideas unfold when I run.) My class was going to do a unit on NGSS 5-PS2-1 (Earth’s Forces and Interactions) and my goal was to create an activity that was engaging and meaningful to the students. I reached the peak of a hill and it suddenly hit me, “Why not use Ozobots to model the Earth’s gravitational pull on the Moon?”  My students love the Ozobots and by nature, they are engaging; in addition, the Ozobots are the perfect shape to stand in as models of the Earth and Moon. I used the “Moon’s Orbit” code sheet from the Eclipses and Celestial Mechanics lesson from the Ozobot [Lesson Library] and had the students code the rate of orbit using an Ozobot to represent the moon. As for the Sun, I used a paper Merge Cube and the “Galactic Explorer’s” app to generate an AR overlay of the Earth.  

What was the most challenging part about making it, and how did you overcome the obstacle?
My challenges weren’t at all with the Ozobot because the Ozobots are very user-friendly and didn’t require troubleshooting here. My issues were with the Merge Cube. The traditional foam Merge Cube was too large for my model; therefore, it prevented the Ozobot (Moon) from completing a full orbit around the Merge Cube (Earth). I solved this problem by creating a paper Merge Cube that was smaller in scale.  

Can you share with us an example of how your project combined creativity and coding?
This project combined creativity, coding, and problem-solving. Prior to this activity, my students and I discussed the Earth’s gravitational pull on the Moon and its effect on the Moon’s orbit. Next, we observed that the Moon doesn’t orbit in a perfect circle or oval; rather, it’s more like an ellipse. We analyzed the path of the Moon’s orbit (“Moon’s Orbit” code sheet from the Eclipses and Celestial Mechanics Lesson) and applied what we had learned about gravity to embed the proper Ozobot rate of speed Color Codes onto the “Moon’s Orbit” code sheet. This project used innovation and creativity because I took another tech tool (Merge Cube and the “Galactic Explorer” app) to invent an AR model of the Moon’s orbit around the Earth.      

How else do you use STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) in everyday life?
I feel that the pillars of STEAM are collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving; I personally use these skills in my everyday life. In my daily life, I communicate with others by sharing information or ideas. I also collaborate with others to help build a cohesive team and reach goals. I exercise creativity and critical thinking by thinking differently and outside the box. I like doing things that no one before me has done, and my students really appreciate that. I honestly don’t set out to be innovative, my goal is to construct activities that are engaging, meaningful and interesting to my students–innovation is the by-product. Lastly, I am always problem-solving. I believe that failure is a key to success; when I don’t achieve the outcome I intended, I analyze what went wrong and propose solutions. In my classroom, I aim to help my students learn and refine these skills for themselves.     

What is your favorite Color Code?
My favorite Ozobot Color Codes are the ZigZag and Tornado. I typically use the ZigZag and Tornado codes at the end of my creations to act as a Celebratory Dance when the Ozobot is successful.  

In addition to having a blast with Ozobots, what do you want kids who may recreate your project to take away from it?
Of course I’d like kids to be able to better understand how the Earth’s gravitational pull impacts the Moon; but, I also want kids to use this App Smash and walk away with the idea that creativity and learning are limitless. Hopefully, they will be inspired to do some App Smashing of their own or take my project and improve upon it.

How do you see your project being used in the future in different ways?
I think a next step might be to use nine Ozobots to model the entire Solar System and the orbital paths of each planet around the Sun. To do this one would need to code an orbit for each of the eight planets in our Solar System. Next, one could secure nine Merge Cubes (one for the Sun) to the top of each Ozobot, then using a tablet, students can use the AR “Galactic Explorer” app to overlay an AR image of each planet and watch it travel along an orbital path.  A STEAM option would be to take out the art supplies (paint, markers, paper, and/ or spheres) and encourage the students to create representations of the Sun and planets in our Solar System and attach them to each Ozobot.

How did you first hear about Ozobot and/or first start learning to code?
I first heard about Ozobots a year ago. I was an Elementary Instructional Technology Coach in a progressive school district in Illinois when a local public library provided a crash course in operating Ozobots. I then visited the library and observed kids interacting with Ozobots. I was touched by the huge smiles that the little robots brought to their faces.  I immediately thought that I must get them in the hands of my students! I was able to forge a partnership with the library so that I could check them out and bring them into the Elementary classrooms in my building. Once I got to play with the Ozobots it was very easy for me to incorporate them into the curriculum and instruction.

Fast forward one year, I am now teaching at an elementary school in Kansas, and I was awarded a grant to purchase Ozobots from Benninghoven’s wonderful PTA. Since I am no longer an Instructional Technology Coach, I have trained my students how to use Ozobots and they are now the building experts. When a teacher needs help using Ozobots, I deploy my students. By allowing my students to teach others about Ozobots, my students have been practicing the STEAM principles and helping to build community in our building.   

Besides creating with code, what is your favorite hobby or interest to geek out about in your free time?
I love spending time with my family. I am a runner and fitness enthusiast. I also love discovering new tech tools for instructional use. For a variety of reasons, not all the apps or tools I want to use in my classroom are available to my students; therefore, I need to problem solve and find alternatives. As a result, I have learned about many new tech applications and tools to bring into my classroom which has benefited me as an educator and helped refine my craft.

How would you describe Evo’s personality?
Evo is very playful; but, I feel like it takes on the personality of the coder. For example, my toddler boys each have Evos and two very different personalities. My three-year-old always wants to use the Line Jump, ZigZag, Turbo, and Spin codes; so, I feel like his Ozobot is very mischievous just like him! My four-year-old son is a little more serious and reserved; so, he chooses codes that seem to reflect his personality, like Cruise, U-Turn, and Snail Dose.

What other projects have you done with your bots?
Main Idea and Details: My students read a story, then drew a Main Idea and Details graphic organizer with Ozobot Color Codes. As the Ozobot traveled along the color coded path, the students recited the main idea and details of the story to a partner with direct quotes.

Plot: My students drew a Plot line and embedded Color Codes along the path that they determined to be appropriate (for example, Snail Dose or Cruise along the Rising Action line, Turbo along the falling action line). Once the code paths were complete, my students narrated the plot of the story while the Ozobot cruised along the Plot Line diagram.

Maps – I’ve had first graders make Maps for the Ozobot and use transition words to explain the Ozobots’ journey.  

Thank you, Amanda, for inspiring creativity and coding in your classroom! Follow Amanda on Twitter to see more of her students’ Ozobot creations. And always remember…

Coding is Creative!
Tech skills alone don’t spur big ideas—creative visions do. That’s why education at home and in the classroom should span science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math (think STEAM, not STEM). Whether you see yourself as a future artist, astronaut, or entrepreneur, our goal at Ozobot is to kick start your creativity and coding skills with playtime that strengthens your whole mind.

To learn more, explore Ozobot’s 2 Ways to Code:

OzoBlockly >
Color Codes >

For Educators and Students:
OzoBlockly Basic Training >
Color Codes Basic Training >
150+ STEAM Lessons >

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