Sphero robotics for math and science
Many wonderful teaching opportunities are often left out when we jump straight to coding robots. There is a world of science and math that makes these robots possible. There is an equal amount of math and science in how we use them.
I will show you how to use the Sphero robot when teaching various math and science concepts. I am using Sphero because it doesn’t need to be assembled. It also provides a good starting point. The concepts taught with Sphero are a good starting point for other concepts.
We begin with Sphero’s geometry. A sphere has a radius. This makes is similar to a circle. The radius is the distance from the center of a circle to any point on the edge.
There are differences and similarities between a circle and a sphere. A circle of all practical purposes is a two dimensional object. A sphere is a three-dimensional object. The coordinates for a circle are plotted on an a coordinate plane with X and Y-axis. The coordinates of a sphere are plotted on a coordinate plane with X, Y, and Z-axis.
I bounce back and forth between the circle and sphere to help make the comparisons.
The distance of a line passing from one end of the circle through the center and to the other side is called the diameter. The diameter is twice the radius. The same definition holds true for a sphere.
The radius is important in helping determine the area of both a circle and a sphere. The area occupied by a sphere is called the volume. The radius is used to determine the area of a circle. The area of a circle is all the space within the boundaries of the circle. This boundary is known as the circumference.
The radius is used to determine the volume of a sphere. The volume of a sphere is similar to the area of a circle. The volume is all the space within the boundaries of the sphere’s surface.
A sphere has almost an infinite number of points on the surface. This surface is measurable. We call it the Surface Area of the sphere. It's similar to the circumference of a circle.
To determine Sphero’s volume and surface area we need to begin with a value. This value is Sphero’s circumference. This value is plugged into the formula for the circumference of a circle. With this formula we obtain the diameter radius. After this, all the rest is a fun exploration.
Mass and Density
Sphero is a physical object. It has mass and it has weight. Mass and weight are important for future science explorations. We will use mass to determine buoyancy. Yes, Sphero floats. To determine Sphero’s mass we need either a balance or kitchen scale. A balance scale is ideal for measuring the mass of an object with the mass of other objects. Kitchen scales are calibrated to find the mass of items.
To measure Sphereo’s density we will use a beaker with water. Sphero floats and because it floats it displaces water. The amount of water displaced is equal to its volume. Dividing Sphero’s mass by the volume will provide its density.
Water has a density of one. Anything that floats needs to have a density of one or less. Anything that sinks has a density greater than one. Density is affected by the amount of salt in water. Our experiment will use regular tap water. If Sphero floats, what is its density. The answer might surprise you. We will learn about this and much more.