NEWBERRY — It might look like something out of the next Star Wars, but Ozobots, not to be mistaken for a miniature R2D2, will begin being utilized by the Newberry Arts Center to teach kids, teens and adults different ways to code.
Marquerite Palmer, arts and special program coordinator at the City of Newberry Parks, Recreation and Tourism, first came across Ozobots after seeing another art teacher using them in an art class.
“I saw where another art teacher had used them in an art class in a creative way and it’s teaching coding to kids. I was fascinated with it because with the theme of sticking to STEM and STEAM this summer, we wanted to make sure we incorporated as many things with technology, engineering and new innovations that we could to the kids,” Palmer said.
Many lower grades are being taught how to code, and with the help of Ozobots, Palmer said this could enforce what kids are learning.
Ozobots are tiny “robots” that can sit in the palm of your hand with miniature helmets it can wear to perform different tasks.
“You can create different outfits for it and any storytelling you want to do,” said Palmer.
To incorporate Ozobots into camp, Palmer said kids will be able to come up with a story of what their Ozobot is going to do. Then they will have to draw the code to make the Ozobot complete the story.
“It could be simple, like an Ozobot is lost and trying to find its way home. In the process of finding its way home, it has to go one place, turn around and come back, it gets caught in a tornado, it goes to a dance, just different things. Then they will write out the code that the Ozobot will follow that will make it do those activities,” Palmer said.
Campers can also play games with the Ozobot and it can played with on an iPad.
Ozobots respond to color, with colors such as red, black and red meaning one thing and blue, red and blue having its own meaning. The Ozobot follows lines on a map and has to be drawn a certain way for the Ozobot to follow it. When passing certain codes, the Ozobot may slow down, speed up, complete a U-turn or do a tornado.
“Children are learning a very simple way of coding and we’re turning it into an art project and creative project for them to design what their Ozobot is going to do. The hardest part is for younger kids is drawing the lines and drawing the small sections, but we also have costumes and stickers they can use,” Palmer said.
Using the Ozobots is open to all summer camp classes.
“We can’t stop playing with them. We want to keep learning about what to do with them,” Palmer said.
Bridgett Carey, who is helping with summer camps, will be creating lesson plans for the Ozobots.
“She is familiar with it, so she is going to come up with some lesson plans for us to use so that everybody gets a chance to use it and see how they work,” Palmer said.
Ozobots take about 15 minutes to charge with the help of a USB cord and come with markers to draw in your own code.
Regular markers can be used, but as Palmer said, the line has to be fat enough and not overlap colors.
Palmer said there is a possibility that Ozobots will continue to be used in future camps and classes.
“What I love about art is that you can learn so many other subjects through art. We want all of our art classes to not only teach creativity, problem solving, developing our creative abilities. In addition to all of that, we want to open our eyes to different subjects of other things,” Palmer said.
Reach Kelly Duncan at 803-768-3123 ext. 1868 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.