How to Use a Sphero Mini Sensor Board for First Year Physics Labs

The purpose of this thread is to invite comments on the Sphero Guest Blog on this topic.

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Dear potential users of the Sphero Mini Sensor Board for physics lab data acquisition,
Please feel free to ask any and all questions that you might have about the technology, the videos and print curriculum materials available, access to the “At Home Lab Kits” and anything else you need to know.

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Dr. Conrad,

Please send us a beta testing lab kit. I’ll make sure our Physics I teachers check out your curriculum.

Best,
Danny Dale
U. Wyoming Physics

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Hi Danny,
You’re the very first customer–HURRAY! And thanks! I need to set up a procedure for getting your shipping address without breaching privacy issues. Sit tight, and watch this space.
John

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Hi @JohnRConrad,

You should be able to send @ddale a direct message by clicking on his username. If you don’t see this as an option let me know and I think I can promote you to a higher user level if necessary.

What a great project!

Jim

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Hello Dr. Conrad!

My name is Joe Blizzard, and I am the STEM teacher just down the road from you at Roper Mountain Science Center. It was amazing to find your blog article linked in the Sphero Newsletter this morning!

We have been using Spheros for several years here at the science center for our field trip labs and summer camps. We are currently overhauling our lessons in preparation for new science standards rolling out in the state next year and are looking for new and innovative ways to help students investigate and explore areas of science, technology, engineering, and math.

As stated, we have been using Spheros for quite some time now, and we have transferred most of our lessons over to using the minis. We were looking for ways to incorporate them into new lessons, but the new standards have us scratching our heads a bit in how to do that because of how the standards are set up to help students explore things like motion and energy. I love how you have “hacked” the sensor board to make it more versatile for use in investigating force and motion.

We would love a kit to look at and explore if you still have any available. Also, If you have time, we would love to talk and/or meet with you to hear how you have done this, talk about some of the things we would like to use something like what you have done to help students learn, and see what ideas you might have to help us do that. Also, we would love to learn directly from you how we might also “hack” the sensor board for use.

Thank you for reading and any time you might have to help us!

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Hi Joe,

Thanks very much for your interest and your kind words! I am impressed by the breadth and depth of your use of Sphero Minis in the Roper Mountain Science Center. I will be delighted to give you one of our lab kits to try out. This week is a busy week for me, but since you are so close, I’d like to schedule a visit to your operation to deliver the kit in person and to see and discuss your activities.

It was very instructive to me to look at the Roper Mountain website. That brief look makes me realize that our Furman Sphero Mini Sensor Board project may have applications in elementary school grades. While the SMSB project was initiated for college and university labs, I realized that there would considerable potential for high school-level uses. Your comments and your work suggest that I need to add elementary grades to the mix.

I look forward to meeting you soon.
John

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Hi Danny,
I just want you to know that I haven’t forgotten about you! My wife and I have been traveling to visit our grandchildren which we had not seen since the beginning of the Covid lockdown. We are back now and I will soon be ready to send your lab kit.
John

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Awesome! Thank you!

Maybe you could help me think of a way to use the sensor board and maybe lights to help 5th grade students understand and explore the concept of gravity as an attraction/force down towards the center of Earth.

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Hello everyone,
I hope you are all doing well. Looking forward to learning and sharing with others! I am the Director of Education on the St. Petersburg Campus at USF

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Just to give some people more info about me:

David Rosengrant
Interim Director of Education
USF St. Petersburg Campus

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Schedule for Lab Kit Shipping

I hope to ship the first batch of Lab Kits this weekend. I am still waiting for a few potential “customers” to finalize their requests. The process has two simple steps: (1) post your request here on this Sphero Community Forum and tell us a bit about who you are, and then (2) by direct email, send me your mailing address to john.conrad@furman.edu.

My Visit to Roper Mountain Science Center

A few days ago, I had the distinct pleasure of visiting the Roper Mountain Science Center here in Greenville, South Carolina. Roper Mountain, a special facility of Greenville County Schools, is a unique partnership of public ownership, corporate sponsorship, private support, and volunteers. During the school year, 500-600 students visit Roper Mountain every day for high-quality “learning labs.”

The purpose of my visit was to hand-deliver a Lab Kit to Roper Mountain STEM teacher Joe Blizzard, and STEM specialists Erin Eudaly, and Valerie Mosher. For many years Joe, Erin and Val have been using Sphero Mini robots to allow elementary school students to explore the world of robots and programming. I was highly impressed by their work. They masterfully weave the science and technology topics into age-appropriate narratives that really engage their young learners. As I previewed the contents of the lab kit, it was clear to me that they had lots of ideas of ways to use the sensor board for young learners in a semiqualitative manner that I wouldn’t have dreamed possible. I don’t want to steal their thunder. I hereby invite Joe, Ernie and Val speak for themselves!

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We enjoyed meeting you, learning from you, and sharing our ideas with you! Thank you for coming! By the end of the day when you visited, we already had some ideas of how to use the sensors. I had a 3D printed design prototype that I was able to test before I left work that day. I will share more here in a bit about the idea. But I wanted to say thanks for your visit while I had a few minutes to come to the forum here.

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Dear Prof. Conrad,

I am Mohamed A. Gharbi, an assistant professor of physics at UMass Boston and instructor of the physics Lab course for life science students. I am always looking for new ways to improve physics teaching to students of different backgrounds. I like your “At Home” lab teaching project and wish to test some of your lab kits if possible.

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Dear Joe (STEM Blizzard),
Excellent! Thanks. It would be great if you could share the 3D printer files. Your custom carrier is a great improvement over the restaurant condiment sauce containers that I ordered from Amazon for the kits! Also it will great to hear of your ideas for elementary school audience.

Dear Mohamed (magharbi),
Thanks for your interest. I’ll ship it to you next week.

John

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Hello, I’m the manager of the instructional labs at Dartmouth, and we’ve been evaluating a number of devices with similar design goals as yours. I’d love to have one of yours to test out! We’re trying to figure out how to improve our labs, and devices like these have good potential.

Thanks much!
Alan Goldblatt

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Hi Alan,
Thanks for your interest. I shipped your Lab Kit on Saturday; I’ll send the UPS tracking number by email.

Regarding your interest in evaluating other platforms, as you know, there are many commercially available platforms such as

In comparing with these commercial systems, please keep in mind that there will need to be improvements required to optimize the Sphero sensor board for the intended use. Notably, the sampling rate of the sensor board is painfully slow at present.

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Sounds good. Thanks, John.

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Hi John,
I would love the beta testing Kit. I am currently teaching Physics at Tabor Academy, I have been here for six years (four of those six I was the science department chair). As we begin to look at next year, I will be taking over our Engineering course and this will be an amazing addition to the curriculum.
-Drew Tanzosh
Tabor Academy
Marion, MA

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Drew,
Excellent! Thanks for your interest. Yours is the first request from a secondary school. I need to go out to campus to retrieve some more lab kits to check and repack for shipping. I will try to send yours early next week.
John

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