At SchoolBrandon Hazzard
Coding projects for kids with Sphero are a fun way to learn the foundations of programming.

Learning to code requires more than book learning. The programming concepts and knowledge picked up from reading are necessary, but as any programmer will tell you, it takes hands-on practice to turn that knowledge into working skills. Completing coding projects is a great way to build these important 21st century skills.

By participating in a coding project, students can learn the basics of programming, how to think like a programmer, and the processes and tools involved in finishing a real-world application. Plus, the sense of accomplishment they feel when all their work pays off is priceless.

7 Fun Coding Project Ideas To Get Started

In this blog, we’ll cover seven coding projects for kids to try with Sphero programmable robots so they can have fun and get started easily.

1. Build Your Own Version Of Classic Pong With Swift Playgrounds

Video games are way more advanced than the original Pong game, but students will still get a kick out of building the first video game ever created for themselves. Swift Playgrounds is an educational app designed to teach kids how to write code. By combining Swift Playgrounds with the Sphero BOLT, you can build a more physical form of the game for a twist on the original. Once they have completed a Pong game, they can try some of the other projects Swift Playgrounds offers.

2. Build A Sphero Obstacle Course

Robots are fun, and creating a maze for Sphero BOLT to navigate through and programming the BOLT so it makes it safely to the end of the course is a great way for beginners to learn more about robotics. So get some cardboard, packing tape, hot glue, and any other materials that will make an interesting obstacle course and see if the bot can make it through. When it does, build a more complex maze with even more obstacles.

3. Robot Curling

Curling is an Olympic game where two teams take turns sliding granite stones toward a target, but this project replaces the stones with a Sphero BOLT. Create a target out of cardboard, and have students compete programmatically to see who gets the highest score.

4. Create A Draw Bot

This project starts with a few simple items: a Sphero BOLT, a cup, a marker, and a large sheet of paper.

Tape the marker to the side of the cup, put the BOLT inside, and place it on the sheet of paper. Now program the BOLT to draw specific shapes like a square, rectangle, triangle, pentagon, and hexagon. This will teach not only programming but also geometry.

5. Sphero Food Delivery Service

For this project, have students create a map of their town large enough for a Sphero BOLT to travel down its roads. Make sure to draw a few restaurants and houses on the map.

Students will learn mapping and location units as they guide their BOLT on food deliveries from restaurants to customers.

6. Robotic Battleship

For this project, you will need tape to create a Battleship grid, slips of paper to create the grid labels, and a Sphero BOLT as their “torpedo.” Students will have to write a program to shoot their BOLT at the opposing player’s grid after they shout out the latitude and longitude coordinates of their target. Choosing the right target is only one of the challenges. The “torpedo” must also hit the target.

7. Sphero Bowling

To complete this project, you will need to create some bowling pins. Old plastic bottles work great. Then students must write a program to guide the BOLT to get a strike. It is harder than it seems. If they get a split instead of a strike, things could get interesting because the BOLT doesn’t have to follow a straight path.

Things To Consider Before Starting A Coding Project

Teachers are an important resource that students should be able to turn to when they get stuck with a coding project. Each project can have its own quirks and learning curve, so it is important for educators to prepare for questions that may come up when students begin a new project. 

Get familiar with the project and potential challenges students may experience by completing the lesson yourself. Doing this is a perfect way to arm yourself with answers to any question students might ask. 

How To Plan A Coding Project

When you are planning a coding project, there are a few crucial steps you should take. First, you need to determine what kind of project the students are going to create.

Are they new to coding, or do they have some experience with code? What type of project will help them grow without being overwhelming?

Next, you need to determine which programming language you will use for the project. Some programming languages are easier for beginners, while others are more powerful and teach advanced concepts. 

The final step is creating a project plan. Include these details in the project plan if the project has any waypoints or a timeframe for when the project is due. Students may be new not only to writing code but also to the processes involved in completing a coding project; they may need structure and adult guidance to manage their time and efforts. Using a well-documented project or one that provides templates can be very beneficial to helping beginner and intermediate programming students understand how to conduct a programming project properly.

How To Get Started Coding

The best way to get started coding is choosing a project made for beginner coders that is also fun and interesting. It is not just about learning to code; it’s also about learning why hands-on coding is so valuable.

Igniting a student’s passion for code with a real-world coding project that they are excited to work on is key. The collection of Sphero apps brings learning to life with robots and kits for kids at every skill level. Check out some tips on getting started with coding for more pointers.

Additionally, the Virtual Robot feature in the Sphero Edu app is a great entry point for beginning coders.  This feature allows students to practice and design programs to use outside the classroom, without the need for a robot. Many students are limited to class time with the physical BOLTs and RVRs, but with the Virtual Robot feature, they can still learn the basic commands and practice or design as much as they like outside my class.

Learning to code takes different techniques than other subjects. It is important to choose the best projects you assign students to. Think of coding project ideas that fit their interests and abilities. Make sure you are available to help them when they get stuck and help guide them through the process of completing a project. 

Coding projects are a great way to increase student engagement, because they will not only learn but have fun while doing it.

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