Sphero Robots

Paul and Tim have been doing a lot of work with the Sphero robots and the Year 5/6 class. Students have been manually controlling the Spheros’ in activities like Sphero soccer while also developing block coding skills to move the Spheros through a maze. Students have experienced high levels of engagement, great collaboration, problem solving and the use of mathematical and scientific concepts. The other great thing to come from these lessons is the learning that Paul and Tim have experienced alongside the students, never having used Spheros before.

Sphero Soccer (Black ball is the soccer ball. Two teams Green/Blue & Red/Pink/Yellow)

Coding a Sphero to go through a maze


PBAS STEM 4 – Careers with Code

While we understand that digital technologies play an important part in many aspects of our lives we may be surprised by the diversity of industries coding or computer programming reaches.

If you are looking to deepen your own understanding of how digital technologies are linked to career paths or trying to help students connect technology and careers then this post may help.

Careers with Code is a magazine that discusses how computer programming is used in a variety of industries. There is also a Careers with Code website and Twitter account.

All of the information in this post(apart from the links) have been taken from the Careers with Code magazine, Issue 3 October 2016. Where possible I have provided links to products, people or companies mentioned in the magazine.

Industries and Links to Computer Programming


  • The Open Food Network creates open source software to simplify the process of finding, buying and selling local sustainable food.
  • The Yume app provides a platform that allows excess food to be distributed rather than go to waste.


  • Dr Cheryl McCarthy designs automated weed control systems that use machine-based image recognition to identify weeds from crops.
  • Sundrop farms in South Australia use highly engineered sensor controlled hydroponic systems. Potentially a place to visit if your students were looking at sustainable agriculture. 

Music, Movies and Art

  • New Zealand company Serato designed an Apple music player called Serato Pyro that mixes and transitions your songs like a DJ would.
  • Computer generated animation and green screen affects are now common place in the movies we watch. Green screen technology is also easy to set up in a school environment (see PBAS STEM Post 3).
  • Melbourne based company Explanovision uses animation to explore our world. Founder James Huston used his computer science skills and interest in art to develop the company.

Wearable Technology/Fashion

  • Wearable tech is a growth market making everyday wearable items ‘smart’. Connecting clothing, glasses etc to the Internet. Google glass pioneered the smart glasses, while they have opted out for the moment many others have opted in.
  • Wearable technology can be found in a diverse range of industries including the military, fitness, medical and finance.
  • Sydney based company Tzukuri is testing its first 100 ‘unloseable’ sunglasses. Combining bluetooth technology and an app to track their location.
  • Even jewellery – the ring ZERO is filled with motion sensors that allow hand gestures to wirelessly control music playing devices, turning lights off or writing a text.
  • Shoes of Prey rely on the coding ability of its programmers so women can design and buy their own shoes online.

Medical Technologies

  • The University of Queensland has created an artificially intelligent (AI) psychologist called Amy.
  • Google’s DeepMind is working to help prevent blindness by improving early diagnosis through AI technology.
  • Robotic aids for surgeons.
  • The CSIRO is developing brain scanning technology that can detect dementia up to 30 years before the patient gets sick.

Smart Sports Equipment

  • RMIT University are looking to develop Smart Equipment and advanced performance analyses through technology.
  • A number of companies have included sensors in their equipment to send data back to the athletes mobile device, for example the Wilson X basketball.


  • High level coding, encryption and forensic skills are in demand by companies wanting to protect their data.
  • Companies will pay computer scientists to break into their systems and then tell them what is wrong with it (called penetration testing).

While this is just a small number of examples it does help us to see the impact and opportunities that computer programming skills can provide.

Using Scratch to develop Year 8 coding skills

The Year 8s have been learning how to code using Scratch with Allan during term 1 this year. This online software allows students to learn the basics of coding.

Students used their knowledge of Scratch to create their own simple games based on existing games such as Donkey Kong, Space Invaders and Pong or created their own original game.

The learning experienced while developing these games included:

  • Learning through trial and error
  • The importance of persistence
  • Breaking down big problems into smaller more manageable ones
  • Analysing errors and think about ways to correct them
  • Collaboration
Teacher quote "One of the most pleasing and perhaps unexpected outcomes I witnessed was the number of students who quickly became the expert at a specific area and then became the teacher helping other students to apply specific code to help their game. The idea that computer programmers are solitary people was quickly dispelled as the students realised the power of collaboration."

The video below shows a range of games created by the students.

Game 1 – Tic Tac Toe

Game 2 – Maze Runner

Game 3 – Pong

Game 4 – Donkey Kong

Game 5 – Timed maze

Game 6 – Virtual Pet (make sure your pet gets enough play time, is fed and sleeps)

This task  addresses TfEL Domain 2 Create safe conditions for rigourous learning and TfEL Domain 4 Personalise and connect learning. Element 2.2 build a community of learners - Encourages everyone to be a teacher and a learner (students became experts in specific areas of coding and supported others) Element 4.4 communicate learning in multiple modes - Engages learners in practical activities to develop understanding (creation of a game using code)


At PBAS this term Jackie and Paul have introduced Coding into their classrooms challenging their students to think creatively, problem solve and work collaboratively. The resources they have available to them are the iPad apps Hopscotch, Kodable and Daisy the Dinosaur. The school also has a set of Bee Bots which allow simple directional coding.

Paul recently shared an article with me that he had read in the latest edition of Australian Educator (Spring 2014, issue 83) called Code Commanders. One of the resources in the article lead me to a site called Code. After having a quick play with the website I found it engaging and easy to use. As a resource for teaching coding I think it would be excellent. There is a student and teacher sign up process which allows the teacher to track progress over time. The site can be used without an account but any learning cannot be saved.

Below are screen shots from the site which explain what type of courses are available.

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Tutorials range from an hour in length (the beginner tutorials above) to courses 15-25 hours in length.

The new Digital Technologies Australian Curriculum requires aspects of coding to be taught and is an area of the curriculum that for a lot of teachers will be new. The Code site would be a great starting point for any teacher keen to develop their own knowledge about coding. It is also a great resource to form the basis of a coding program to deliver to students.

Coding for Kids

What is coding and why is it useful?

Coding allows us to create computer software, apps and websites. A computer can’t function without someone installing code so that it can function in the way that we want it to. In a technology rich world the skill of coding is valuable.

In the US alone there’ll be a million more computing jobs than computing science graduates by 2020.” Reference – abc.net.au , “Coding crisis: getting tech skills taught in schools”. I realise we are not the US but you get the picture.

“The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) shortage – In Australia we’re already languishing near the bottom of the OECD in creating students interested in S.T.E.M.. Australia actually imports more STEM graduates than it educates at university.” Reference – abc.net.au , “Coding crisis: getting tech skills taught in schools”.

What do we do at PBAS?

Currently at PBAS we do very little around Coding and Programming although we have had and used Lego Robotics for a long time and dabbled in the use of BeeBots. This has tended to be at higher year levels or to select groups rather than across a wide range of students.

With the introduction of iPads we now have a resource that is easily accessible and able to introduce and help us teach concepts around coding. The apps Kodable, Hopscotch and Daisy the Dinosaur have been put on the iPads during the holidays and offer a range of coding options from junior primary to senior secondary. The Kodable app also provides teacher learning guides to assist with the app.

Where does coding fit in the Australian Curriculum?

I have had a look at the Technologies – Digital Technologies R-6 Australian Curriculum and found where where this learning fits. I have created a single A4 page that outlines this information for teachers. Click here to see this document.

I have provided some videos below to help with the introduction of the coding apps on the iPads.

Primary staff meeting Week 2, Term 2

In addition to this post I am also planning to discuss coding in the week 2, term 2 Primary team meeting. I am hoping we will have the chance to play with the iPads to see how the coding apps work and discuss the idea of teaching students simple coding concepts.




Daisy the Dinosaur

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