Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Codey Rocky in the Makerspace

I've been using Makeblock since I picked up the mBot a couple of years ago. It was such a fun robot to build. This is why I was excited to hear that Makeblock had launched a Kickstarter for their next robot, the Codey Rocky.

It is very easy to be skeptical of the videos posted by companies showing all of the amazing things their product can do, but I can tell you that Makeblock is not exaggerating what the Codey Rocky can do. Here are some of the standouts from using it in the Makerspace at school and seeing students interact with it out of the box. 

The mBlock 5 is their software that is based on Scratch and can interact with Scratch made programs. Block based coding has become the standard for entry level coding for beginners and it is nice to see Makeblock continue that trend. The cool part is that you can switch to Python coding with the click of a button. I love this option because it is perfect for instruction as students move away from block coding and gain experience using text based coding.

I was able to quickly download the software on my Mac and start dropping the code in with the blocks. The code is quickly uploaded to the Codey Rocky through the USB connection so you can see what you coded right away. I did a quick blinking code to get eyes opening and closing and it worked great! You can have the Codey Rocky move and use the sensors on the code and all you need to do is code, upload, and get started. Using the buttons on the Codey Rocky is the easiest way to test the code you have written and then move on to the sensors once you have a strong understanding of how the code works as written. 

Makebklock also provides 16 lessons for students and teachers to explore to help guide them on their journey exploring the Codey Rocky. The lessons run the full range of sensors that the Codey Rocky has and really gives the user a full experience of what the device can do. 

I mentioned the sensors above and they are sweet. Of the 10 sensors, the sound sensor, light sensor, and IR color sensor were the most fun to play with for the students. All of these sensors are accessible through their app that is available on all mobile and desktop platforms. 

The thing that stands out to me about the Codey Rocky that makes it a great addition to a Makerspace is that it allows students to be creators, not just consumers. They can write the code and direct the Codey Rocky to do what they want. As they become more comfortable adding sensors and working with Python, I can see students in the Middle School transitioning to Raspberry Pi and starting to build their own robots and use sensors with those creations. 

I highly recommend that parents and teachers give the Codey Rocky a look over when they are considering great tools to help student learn and create with code and hardware. I'm excited to see what my students have in store for the Codey Rocky next year when they have more time to create.

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