We are excited to announce the newest addition to our Northwest Ohio Steam Lab! Meet Indi the latest robot from Sphero. indi joins our lineup as a programmable robot that is so easy to use that a preschooler can use it!

The indi lab made its first visit to one of our schools in early November. Our first school to borrow the lab was North Central Local Elementary school in Williams County. 

I had been in contact with Pre-school & Pre-Kindergarten teacher Amanda Fellers who requested some team taught STEAM for her younger students. Originally we were going to take the Lego WeDo kits to her classroom. Thanks to Northern Buckeye and Northwest Ohio Educational Service Center, we were able to order the indi kits which had just become available. 

For the first two days, the lesson was team-taught by myself and Amanda to her morning students (3, 4 and 5 years old). After introducing the basics on operating indi we gave them the opportunity to learn how to make indi go (Green tile) and stop (Red Tile) and so on. It was wonderful to see how quickly even the youngest of students was able to successfully program indi to follow a path.

For the balance of the week Amanda was able to use the indi lab on her own with her other students.

The lab includes 8 kits which are made up of a set of 21 rubberized programming tiles that allow indi to do 8 different actions (go, slow down, stop, celebrate, left, right, slightly left, slightly right).

A separate charging case holds the 8 indi robots and charges them via an external charge cable. The kit includes a detailed 39 page educator guide. I have put together a Google Slides presentation that can be used to introduce students to indi and step through the first 4 lessons.

Here is what she had to report about the balance of the week with the 5 year olds.

“We reviewed the colors and what they meant to indi. The students were put into small groups. The groups were squealing as they designed the paths for indi.”

For the younger students , Amanda gave them a brief explanation, and they worked with indi as a whole group.  Once the students found success in using 3 of the command colors, she introduced the blue color tile which is a “right turn” tile.

 Amanda told them it was a mystery tile that they would need to work with.  She explained “They caught on so quickly to this experience!”  One of the benefits of students working with indi is that they are so easy to use that if students have problems it is easy for them to try again. Amanda noted “They weren’t afraid to make mistakes or try new commands.  I enjoyed watching them trouble-shoot to reach their goals.”

If you are a NWOCA or NWOESC member then you have the opportunity to borrow the indi kit and introduce your classes to the indi robots and give them some coding experiences. To find out more, please visit our STEAM Lab page for all the details.

Many thanks to Amanda Fellers for providing the pictures and being willing to try something new with her students.

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