Designed by electronics company Evollve, the Ozobot Bit is a palm-sized device that looks a little like a bon-bon, but you can dress it up with the tickers and chipboard decorations like ears and horns that it comes with.
This little bot uses a micro USB based rechargeable LiPoly battery. Before you start to play, you must calibrate the bot. To do that, just hold down the power button (located on its side) until the robot’s LED turns white, then place it on the calibration card it ships with. Once the little robot’s light turns green, it’s ready to go. One calibration lasts about 90 minutes.
I tested the Ozobot Bit starter pack (available at the Earl Center) which contains:
- One Ozobot with two skins
- 4 code-creating markers
- 2 clear play surface sheets,
- 2 sheets of reusable code stickers
- A DIY blank customizable skin
- DIY skin sticker sheet.
- A charging USB cable
All nicely packaged in a way that ensures the contents won’t get damaged.
There are about 25 activity cards, as well as instructions on how to download free Android & iOS Apps.
How it works
Using color sensing technology and dual micro motors for variable speeds, Ozobot follows black, red, green, and blue paths that control its movement and speed in different directions. What’s interesting about this robot is that you can use it atop smartphones and tablets as well as on just a piece of paper. You can create mazes, tracks and playgrounds on paper, game boards and digital screens. I tried a few of the simple mazes and then one of the more complicated cards that required using some of the stickers that direct the bot left, right and straight.
You can find printable code challenges on the Ozobot website as well the Ozobot android/iOS app which contains three games: OzoDraw, OzoLuck and OzoPath.
OzoLuck lets you select a discreet number of outcomes for the Ozobot, then pick from three maze types. Once you select a maze type, you put your bot on the calibration point in the center and press the start button. You guess where you think Ozobot will finish at then sit back and watch as it moves forward and turns its way to one of the available outcomes.
OzoPath is an app where you race against clock. You try to get Ozobot to complete a path from start to finish using specific game tiles. Depending on the rotation of the tile, the piece can only be placed in certain squares, rotating the tile will open new possibilities and shut down existing ones, thus introducing gaming style and design.
Ozodraw lets you create new game surfaces. Using this part of the app, you are guided on how to draw one of the over 25 unique code commands that control Ozobot’s speed, decision-making and behavior.
Another app is called Ozogroove, which is supposed to get your Ozobot grooving to the music of your choice. I tried using the built in demos (the bot is supposed to dance to preprogrammed chacha, country or step dancing) on my phone, but it didn’t work very well for me. To be fair, it would probably be much more fun on a tablet or similarly sized device.
In all cases, there is a learning component: you try combinations of colors (codes) to get the Ozobot to make the moves you want it to.
Aside from the obvious fun, why would you want to include the Ozobot in your curriculum? Well, here are just a few reasons:
- In the guise of a game, the Ozobot teaches basic coding practice; e.g., different colors make the bot go at different speeds and different combinations of colors make the bot move in different directions.
- The kit promotes deductive reasoning. Consider for example, extras available from the Ozobot website. Amidst a maze of black lines, students choose codes to get Ozobot from one end of the maze to another. Using the green, red, blue, or black markers provided in the kit, students color (code) and watch as the Ozobot reads and deciphers the code and then follows the command to successfully complete its journey. Unlike a lot of technologically based materials, the Ozobot actually works very well when there is more than one player, so in a sense it teaches one of the most basic skills in K-12 education: social interaction. As one Web site puts it, Ozobot is a “bridge between technology and family game night, Ozobot encourages kids to play and interact.” (https://www.thegrommet.com/ozobot). With a device that falls squarely in the realm of techie, that’s just plain cool.
Evollve is about to launch a new robot called Evo, designed to “connect the physical and digital worlds, replacing solitary screen time with endlessly engaging user-to-user, user-to-bot and bot-to-bot interactions.” (http://marketersmedia.com/ozobot-releases-a-first-of-its-kind-smart-and-social-robot/132531) Evo is slightly larger and can do more. You can program it by drawing colored stripes on paper, by creating actual programs in the Ozoblockly programming language on a PC (think a cross between Scratch and Logo), or using a companion iPhone or Android app as a remote control for the bot. To find out more about the company and its products visit http://ozobot.com.